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In March 1966, Muhammad Ali trained here to fight Toronto-born George Chuvalo for the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship at Maple Leaf Gardens.
The fight came at a pivotal time in Ali’s career. He was effectively
banned from competing in the United States because of his controversial support for the political and religious group Nation of Islam and his opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali said: “I will not disgrace my religion, my people, or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom, and equality.”
Ali was scheduled to fight World Boxing Association champion Ernie Terrell in the U.S., but Terrell withdrew. The event moved to Canada where, only three weeks before the March 29 fight, Canadian champion George Chuvalo became Ali’s opponent.
Ali trained at boxing promoter Earl “Sully” Sullivan’s Toronto Athletic Club, which was located above a garage here. Fans paid between $1 and $5 to watch Ali spar and he used the proceeds to support neighbourhood children. Chuvalo trained nearby at Lansdowne Athletic Club.
The fight lasted the full 15 rounds, with Ali using his signature speed and Chuvalo responding with his strength. Ali won on a unanimous decision.
Black Heritage, Sports History
Muhammad Ali vs. George Chuvalo Commemorative Plaque, 2016