New Book celebrates Boxing Greats

Distinction Earned Chronicles Cape Breton’s Love Affair with Boxing

The official launch of Distinction Earned: Cape Breton’s Boxing Legends 1946-1970, by Sydney native Paul MacDougall, is set for Tuesday, November 2, 4-6 p.m. at the Centre for Heritage and Science, 225 George Street, Sydney. Distinction Earned, highlights the accomplishments of significant Cape Breton fighters like George “Rockabye” Ross (about who MacDougall has also penned a play), Tyrone Gardiner, Blair Richardson and Francis “Rocky” MacDougall and trainers and promoters like Johnny Nemis, Rudy Plichie and Gussie MacLellan.

In the mid-60s, no less than five national boxing champions in different weight classes were Cape Bretoners. For years, the Island was not only a hotbed for boxing in the Maritimes, but central to the sport nationally and internationally. In Glace Bay and Sydney, as well as New Waterford and North Sydney, boxing fans filled arenas to cheer on the best fighters the sport had to offer.

Through Distinction Earned MacDougall has amassed and interpreted dozens of interviews with participants, enthusiasts and their heirs, from which has evolved this portrait of an amazing sporting story.

“Paul’s enthusiasm and his respect for the accomplishments of these fighters, trainers and promoters come through loud and clear in his chronicle of a great Cape Breton story,” says CBU Press editor-in-chief Mike Hunter.

“And by including dozens of photographs and clippings, Distinction Earned is a kind of collective memoire,” says Hunter. “Paul is an experienced writer and he has shaped his many interviews, conducted over a number of years, into an account that is accurate and enthusiastic.”

The title is taken from a citation of Cape Breton boxers at a Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame investiture.

The Centre has also mounted an exhibit of boxing memorabilia that runs the month of November.