George Chuvalo talks openly about his 1966 and 1972 fights with Muhammad Ali

He peed blood for a month and a half after, and didn’t get lucky with his wife either
— Chuvalo commenting on Muhammad Ali after their first fight in 1966

George Chuvalo is a Canadian professional boxing legend. A five-time Canadian heavyweight champion and two-time world heavyweight title challenger. His 2 fights with Muhammad Ali in 1966 and 1972 really define Chuvalo as a Canadian superstar. After 22 years of professional fighting, George retired in 1978 with a record of 72 wins and 19 losses.

This interview took place about 3 weeks before Muhammad Ali died, so you will hear both of us refer to Ali as if he were still living. The interview was also a difficult one to secure as George is in pretty big demand and his handlers keep close tabs on his schedule. Had my request come after Ali’s death, I don’t suspect it would have happened, hence I feel very respectful of the opportunity he provided. The interview was in the home of his brother-in-law and it was obvious that George has a continual flow of guests, which you will hear in the background of the interview from time to time.

I did an extensive amount of research for the interview, reading George’s book, watching several documentaries and many of his fights, but I don’t really feel that it fully prepared me for the discussion that followed. George is a very sweet man and was very engaged in our conversation, but he also made it clear by certain questions that I asked, that he had very strong opinions on the state of boxing in his era and in today’s era in addition to wanting our conversation to head into a certain direction. And the one thing you can’t see from the audio interview is while Chuvalo would talk about his fights, he would get himself in a boxing stance as he described a punch or a movement in the ring. His mind would drift back to that time and his clarity around each action in the ring was savant like. Many times he placed his body completely into mine as he spoke, while I held his microphone and tried to avoid getting hit!

Noteworthy Questions Asked: 

  • What role did Chuvalo’s mother and father play in his successes? (2:19)
  • What is it like, both mentally and physically, to go fifteen rounds in the ring? (6:47)
  • What was the Canadian support like throughout Chuvalo’s long and decorated career? (14:31)
  • Active in the rehabilitation and mental illness community, what message has Chuvalo been spreading? (16:30)

In This Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • What it’s like to fight Muhammad Ali; the “quickest fighter” George ever came across
  • Insight into the mindset and mentality of being an “uncrowned champion”
  • How a strong, loving support system can make or break a career
  • The evolution of boxing; why it’s no longer the exciting sport it once was
  • Overcoming the horrific pain of loss and addiction; being a survivor and a model for others
  • The significance and power of being remembered and commemorated (as a respectable fighter and champion)

The Takeaway: Being remembered as a respectable, hardworking individual is a universally sought after honour we should all strive for.  

Keep Crushing it Canada,
Dave Morris, Host

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