It is with great sadness that Boxing Ontario learned of the passing of Mark Leduc. Mark first learned his craft under the guidance of Colin and Ken MacPhail of the Kingston Youth Boxing Club representing Canada at the 1992 Olympics, where he won a silver medal.
Boxing Ontario would like to pass along our deepest symapthies to his family.
Mark Leduc was not what people expected from an Olympic boxer.
Not only did the 1992 Barcelona silver medallist come into the world weighing only about a kilogram; Leduc was a gay athlete in a profession where homophobia ran deep and rampant.
The former light welterweight was expected to fail because he wasn’t recognized like other “star” contenders were, said Leduc’s brother-in-law, Mark Johnson. “They thought he would be the worst (on the Canadian team), but he knew how to hit people and not get hit.”
Leduc died at St. Michael’s Hospital Wednesday night after he was found unconscious in a local hotel sauna early Sunday morning, Johnson said, adding doctors believe Leduc had suffered a heat stroke that damaged his internal organs.
“We were shattered, disoriented, almost in disbelief. We just kept waiting for a miracle to happen,” said Johnson, who had attended Leslie Street Public School with Leduc. “He’s much too young.”
The Olympian was born in Toronto on May 4, 1962, and grew up in the city’s east end.
His younger years were troubled ones, marked by run-ins with the police and a couple years spent at a Kingston penitentiary. But things started turning around when he became a born-again Christian in his late teens, Johnson said.
The Toronto native went pro shortly after his Olympic success and retired after winning the super lightweight championship of Canada in 1993.
Around that time, Leduc also came out of the closet and was an active advocate for the gay community, speaking out in gay rights documentaries such as 1994’s For the Love of the Game and volunteering with the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation.
“He was a caring, giving person (who) would give the shirt off his back to you,” Johnson said. “A hard-working guy that always reached for the stars.”
A funeral will be held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Friday at 10 a.m.
The family welcomes any donations made in Leduc’s name to be made to the Cabbagetown Boxing Club or any program for aspiring boxers.
Article courtesy of Toronto Star.