Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Boxing legend George Chuvalo with his Infiniti EX35. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
Boxing legend George Chuvalo with his Infiniti EX35. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

My Car

Chuvalo pulls no punches when it comes to cars Add to ...

George Chuvalo

Profession: Retired boxer and activist for Fight Against Drugs

Age: 73

Hometown: Toronto

Notable achievements: Ranked in the top 10 as a professional boxer for much of his career; pro record: 73-18-2 (64 knockouts); 1st Canadian Heavyweight Title: 1958 (KO'd James J. Parker); retired from boxing in 1979 as the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of Canada; inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

More related to this story

Notable Opponents: Floyd Patterson (1965); Muhammad Ali (1966 and 1972); Joe Frazier (1967); Jerry Quarry (1969); George Foreman (1970)

Upcoming: Speaks to students, parents and other groups about the dangers of drugs ( fightagainstdrugs.ca)

Boxing legend George Chuvalo.

He was Canada's heavyweight boxing champion for 21 years, from 1958 until 1979. But after hanging up his gloves, George Chuvalo hasn't faded from the spotlight.

He has devoted his life to the fight against drugs after losing three sons and a wife as a result of substance abuse. For his efforts, he just picked up a 2011 Infiniti EX35, arranged between his boxing promoter and an Infiniti dealership.

How did you end up with an Infiniti?

My promoter saw me driving a 2007 Jeep Liberty and he said to me, "Georgey boy, you shouldn't be driving a car like that. You should be driving something a little more better than that."

He came to the rescue - like a kiss out of the blue. I'm grateful as hell.

The life of a car show model

Mini uses models in a fun way that the company says 'can't be sexist.'
Hot cars, pretty women: Auto makers no longer can 'get away with just putting pretty girls on the stand. There has to be more to it. The game has changed'

What does an Infiniti say about you?

It sounds like long lasting. Just like a fighter. I started boxing at 10 and I went until I was 41 - it was almost Infiniti.

What was your first car?

I think it was a Chevrolet. I was about 19 at the time. I paid 400 bucks. It wasn't brand new.

I've had a whole bunch of cars - I can't remember them all. I had some new Cadillacs back in the 1970s, a brand-new Coupe de Ville, a nice Lincoln. I like the old Cadillacs, the old Lincolns. That's what I'm enamoured with.

I went to Detroit for two years, 1962-64. I had an old Ford, a Meteor. It got me around. It was an old car; it was a clunker.

I had a tough time in Detroit. I lived in the ghetto, right downtown - it was a different experience. I know 12 people who got murdered in a span of just two years. It was a tough place.

At the time I was fighting I had a couple of Cadillacs that I really liked. In the old days, Sugar Ray Robinson used to drive a Cadillac, a pink one in the '50s. He really had style.

I had black and white Cadillacs. My favourite was a black one with a houndstooth pattern in a Coupe de Ville back in the early '70s.

George Chuvalo and his Infiniti EX35.

What's your driving style like - do you like to drive fast?

I drive like an old man now. I'm too slow.

I used to speed along when I was younger. Now I daydream and play nice music and relax. My wife will go, "George, hurry up! You're a Sunday driver." When you're younger you have a heavier foot. But now I don't speed.

I like playing music when I'm driving and I sing like crazy to myself or anybody else who is in the car. I don't care!

Listening to Little Richard. Remember Little Richard? [Chuvalo breaks out singing]I'm going to rock it up, I'm going to rip it up at the ball tonight.

Any speeding tickets when you were younger?

I got a lot of speeding tickets when I was younger.

The last time I got a speeding ticket was about 10 years ago. I went to see my son; he was teaching in Guelph. I was driving 10 miles over the speed limit. He charged me - it was $32.50.

What's your best driving memory?

I love driving down south. One of the fondest memories I have was in a borrowed recreational vehicle about 10 years ago. I went down to Louisiana with my grandson and his uncle. My grandson's father died - that was my second son Steven. He died in 1996. He was 14 at the time so he and my son Mitchell who is now 51, all went down to Cajun country.

We drove through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. We had a great time. That was the nicest trip I've ever been on. We had so much fun. It was an adventure.

We got stuck in a couple of spots but we worked our way out of it. It's something you treasure forever.

What's your worst driving memory?

I was driving with a friend of mine, Jason - nice kid in his early 30s. We were going to the gym to lift weights and I said, "You're tailgating, you got to watch it, Jason." He said, "I've never been in an accident before in my life."

He's zipping - zing, zing, zing. All of a sudden, I look up and in the flash of two seconds I saw the car in front of us stop very quickly. Next thing you know, boom. Crash.

The airbag comes out and whacks me in the chest - best body shot I took in many a moon. It didn't quite knock the wind out of me, but it bruised my ribs. Holy macarole! What happened? We came out of the car and it was an older 83-year-old woman in front of me.

If I could bring you the keys to any car what would it be?

I like the big old cars like a 1956 Cadillac or a 1959 Cadillac with those crazy fins - that was sensational. That's what I like.

They don't make Cadillacs like the used to. For me, the bigger the car the better the car. That's the way I used to feel.

There's nothing like a Cadillac from the old days. But Cadillacs don't look like Cadillacs anymore. It looks like the designers ran out of ideas.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories