A Brief History Of Boxing In Canada

In Canada, boxing has been a traditional sport for around two centuries. While it is true that it was outlawed for a time, before its legalization and proper acclimation, it was still verily practiced in all parts of Canada. It was practiced before the Canadian Confederation of 1867 came into existence. It was illegal in Canada for an extremely extended period (when compared to how long Canada has existed, not as a continent or society but as an officially recognized country) during what was known as the ‘bare-knuckle’ era.

However, this did not stop everyone’s favorite country from practicing that sport! These fights, being illegal, were forced to take place in so-called ‘unknown’ areas. They also (being illegal, still) were without insurance or protection, and so these uncensored fights had very few rules and would, from time to time, result in unsavory endings. The very last illegal, remote, and unknown Canadian boxing match has been recorded as being in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the year 1901.

Tommy Burns was a pre-Olympic (amateur, and not a legal professional) Canadian boxer who was the first Canadian to officially and legally win a heavyweight title! He also went on to become one of the most revered heavyweight champions in the world. Speaking of which, he was the world heavyweight champion boxer in 1906. He defended his title precisely, and not more nor less than, ten times before finally conceding and losing to heavyweight champion Jack Johnson in the year of 1908.

He was the first Canadian to win this title, and it was ended soon after Jack Johnson grabbed ahold of it in the year 1908. No Canadian ever held that title again until over a hundred years later! In Q2 of 2014, a heavyweight boxer (and former champion, of course) by the name of Bermane Stiverne won the ‘WBC’ World Heavyweight Championship after six rounds of continuous fighting with Chris Arreola.

No professional and legal sport, especially a heavily-dependent physical sport such as boxing and kickboxing, is made without its governing bodies. Canada had outlawed itself from boxing for so long that many ‘underground’ administrative organizations sprang up immediately once the ban was lifted. Because of this, there is a lot of tension and debate about which governing body is currently the oldest, and there are quite a lot of contenders for this prestigious honor. Take a look at some of the most famous boxers in Canada’s history.

These administrative judges and forces, which created the local rules for each bout, were pre-existing before the ban was lifted. Some notable contenders are as follows:

  • National Championship of Canada (which was previously the Canadian Boxing Federation)
  • Canadian Professional Boxing Council (which stands for CPBC)
  • ‘NABA’ Canada (A title given by the official North American Boxing Association)
  • WBC Amateur Boxing Canada (Catchy names, I know. This is the ‘official’ governing body for amateur boxing in Canada)

All in all, the Canadian boxing league is as lively today as it was when it was first coming about, and particularly when it was illegal.