On November 1, 2023, Larry Gains, one of the most talented boxers in the first half of the twentieth century was honoured with a commemorative plaque and a special unveiling ceremony at Cabbagetown Boxing Club in Toronto.
Born and trained in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood, Lawrence Samuel “Larry” Gains, was one of the world’s best heavyweights in the 1920s and 1930s, winning the Canadian and British Empire heavyweight titles.
Despite his reputation as one of boxing’s top competitors, discrimination and racism impacted “The Toronto Terror’s” career and his ability to challenge for the World Heavyweight Title, even though he defeated many future champions.
Among the guests of honour at the ceremony were The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre; Peter Meyler, author and individual who nominated Larry Gains under the National Program of Historical Commemoration; Paul Simmons, great grandson of Larry Gains and UK boxing coach; Dr. Richard M. Always, Chairman and Ontario Representative of The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada; Christine Loth-Bown, Vice President, External Relations and Visitor Experiences, Parks Canada; and Boxing Canada National Team athletes from Ontario, Scarlett Delgado and Justin Parina.
“The unveiling of this plaque to commemorate Larry Gains’ life is about remembering his fight both inside and outside the ring,” said The Honourable Marci Ien. “It serves as a reminder of many contributions of Black Canadians have made to help shape our country into what it is today – while inspiring us to continue championing true inclusivity. Black history is Canadian history.”
Larry Gains was designated a National Historic Person by the Government of Canada in 2020. “Designations such as Larry Gains increases awareness of the diversity of person’s who have contributed to Canada’s history,” read a statement by The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada. “I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the life story of Larry Gains, the history of sport in Canada, and the challenges that Black athletes have had to face along the way.”
A speaker at the special ceremony, Scarlett Delgado discussed how Larry Gains and his achievements opened doors of inclusivity for all athletes to compete on the world stage.
Following the ceremony, Cabbagetown Boxing Club presented a sparring demonstration led by head coach Johnny Kalbhenn.
The commemorative plaque will be installed in Regent Park, Toronto, for all to learn more about Larry Gains and his important story.
The plaque-unveiling ceremony is available to view on Boxing Ontario’s YouTube channel.
Full album available on Boxing Ontario’s Facebook page.
- Parks Canada News Release: November 1, 2023
- Larry Gains National Historic Person (1900-1983)
- Watch the Larry Gains Plaque-Unveiling Ceremony here
The Impossible Dream (1976)– by Larry Gains (autobiography)
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