Tuesday, March 8, 2011

THE GORDIE LAWSON BOXING STORY - FINDING THE GOLDEN KEY

(Photo courtesy of Gordie Lawson)

THE GORDIE LAWSON BOXING STORY: By Brian Zelley

Introduction
With permission of former amateur and professional boxer, 
I am writing a short story on the boxing story of Gordie.
Of interest, long after his journey along the twisting
turning boxing highway, there would be another 
journey and that we have called finding the
GOLDEN KEY to unlock the  treasure chest
to find his daughter. 

I first met Gordie during the 1967/1968 boxing season
while we were both members of the Vancouver
Firefighters Boxing Club training under coaches
Bert Lowes and Pat West along with some
outstanding boxers and some young novices. 

THE BOXING STORY  


                  Gordie Lawson      -     Brian Zelley

Long after the bright lights of the boxing ring
had faded to black, it would be boxing that
would be the source of the Golden Key.

THE BOXING JOURNEY BEGINS in 1967
 - The Vancouver Firefighters Boxing Club-

The beginning of the Gordie Lawson boxing story
takes place in September 1967 when he joined
the Vancouver Firefighters Boxing Club that
was located in the heart of the area known as
"Little Italy" and the training facility was
located on Adanac in East Vancouver.  But,
early in the new year, the club would change
locations to the Cambie and 12th. area in
a basement area of an old church within
walking distance of the Vancouver City Hall.

For the open senior boxers it would be an 
important year for a shot of making the 
1968 Olympic Games.  Some of the 
open senior boxers were:
Fred Fuller, Nicky MacDonald,  
Frank Scott, Dave Wylie and Brian Zelley 

THE 1968 SILVER GLOVES 
 TOURNAMENT JOURNEY BEGINS
sadly CHUCK ROBINSON would die with other members
of the 1980 USA Olympic Boxing Team when their plane
crashed and exploded in Poland.  

From 1968 throughout the Seventies Gordie
would be involved in numerous club shows
and tournaments including a Team Canada
Scandinavian Tournament in 1971.


                              (photo courtesy of Gordie Lawson)
Other one time Firefighters were Steve Tohill and Bert Lowes


The Scandinavian tournament saw action in various 
countries, but before the trip the Canadian boxers
would face a team of USA boxers.  Gordie
summarizes the tournament and touches on
a pre-Olympic tournament:
                  (memories from Gordie about the 1971 action)

GOLDEN MOMENTS IN THE GOLDEN GLOVES
Gordie was involved in numerous Golden Gloves tournaments in 
the Pacific Northwest and one of his best performances was the 
 1975 BC Golden Gloves in Vancouver.
     From Saddo Boxing site re. Golden Gloves activity

BACK IN BRITISH COLUMBIA FOR THE FESTIVAL: 

Elsewhere there was that British Columbia Festival of Sports
Winter Boxing Tournament in Prince George.  In that show
Gordie faced the experienced Chester Douglas in the finals.
One measure of praise came from a former South Hill boxer
and the coach of the Prince George Spruce Capital Boxing
Club.  Harold would call Gordie a "Slam Bang Body Puncher"
- HAROLD MANN,  member of the BC Sports Hall of Fame

CLUB SHOWS:
During the time period between 1968 and 1980, Gordie would
participate in his share of club shows hosted by various clubs
from Victoria to Vancouver and other places.  

One early example is a November 1969 All Star Show:

In the 1969 fight card in Vancouver
GORDIE LAWSON
(Firefighters Boxing Club)  
win over
GERALD (Tubby) BOYCE
(Astotia Boxing Club)


More Amateur Moments by Gordie Lawson 

Gordie's last major tournament would be the 1980 
BC Golden Gloves.  A short time later in 1980 Lawson
would hit the pro circuit running.

GORDIE LAWSON - Professional Boxer (1980 - 1983)
In his first four bouts in various Pacific Northwest places
Gordie would earn victories.  Then in his fifth fight, he 
would reach for the stars with a bout in New Zealand
against a country star by the name of MONTY BETHAM. 
Before Gordie, Betham  had fought in the light-heavyweight
division but came in  as a middleweight.

Gordie did not win the bout but gained much respect from the
boxing crowd in New Zealand and back in Canada.  But, 
in the Pacific Northwest, Gordie was well respected as a boxer
and a good guy. The words by David Ius that Gordie had
 "the heart of a lion" can be  validated with his New Zealand
 bout with dual champion MONTY BETHAM.

Of interest , one of the bouts took place in Eastern Europe
and received some coverage in a book titled "Flesh and Blood"
- A journery into the heart of boxing.  At that time, Gordie
and trainer Jimmy Johnston took a quick trip east from 
Vancouver to Europe.

 AFTER THE BRIGHT  LIGHTS OF THE RING &
THE ROAR OF  THE CROWD FADED TO BLACK
                     - a new journey begins-

Gordie continued to have pro bouts until 1983 and would
never hit the jackpot with a world title fight and earn that
pot of gold.  But, it wasn't Gold Medals and Pots of Gold
that GORDIE LAWSON was searching for.  It was the 
"Golden Key" that would unlock the mystery of his lost
daughter.  Life is strange, due to a number of circumstances, 
such as age and other issues, he would never see his daughter
from the time of her birth in 1970.  Difficult to say how
the events in 1970, would effect his boxing journey, but
it may have been the motivation to be a journeyman
globe trotting boxer fighting in the many different towns
in his amateur and professional trip.  Even after the lights
went out on his boxing journey in 1983, he went from the
"heart of a lion" to the "restless tiger" always searching in 
his mind.  And, when he moved to a Northern town, he 
would get involved in amateur boxing as a coach in the
 early Nineties.

Now, if he would of stayed a boxing coach in British Columbia
and kept his membership in BOXING BC, his search and 
likely his daughters search would have been resolved long
ago, or no later than 2008.  But, in the Nineties, the 
NORTHERN BC WINTER GAMES SOCIETY did not
want boxing in the Games, for whatever reason, we will
never know.  It killed boxing in the remote town, and killed
the thread that would have been the key to the solving 
the mystery of  the lost daughter and the lost boxer.   


GOLDEN MEMORIES

Some of Gordie's Boxing Memories:




DAVID IUS - former boxer with the North West Eagles
and son of the top coaches Elio Ius:



FINDING THE GOLDEN KEY  - THE MAIN EVENT OF LIFE

MONIQUE's SEARCH FOR THE LOST BOXER

In the year 2000,  Monique would begin her journey to find her 
birth father, but it would take eight long years before she would
find a key to unlock the door to the mystery.   From various 
records she was able to find a name and  some 
reference to Golden Gloves.  Not being sure of the real
meaning of Golden Gloves, she searched high and low
that would reveal a trace of the name Gordie and his
Golden Gloves.  

Then it happened, Monique did not find Gordie's
Golden Gloves, but she found the 'golden key' 
This opening line on a boxing forum site would turn out to be 
the Golden Key.  After  a few communications  between 
Monique and I, she left her e-mail address of the site and 
I set-up a new topic with the name of Gordie. 
There was no expectation but plenty of hope.

Despite eight long years, it would be another two 
years and five months before Gordie would find the 
Golden Key.  For Monique, it came as a surprise
to one day receive an e-mail with the Lawson name
and a telephone name.  If the past ten plus years
were painful, the receipt of the e-mail would create
 a flood of emotions rushing   through her mind.  
And,  the fear of uncertainty and the fear of rejection.
But,  that is not the reception that she received. 
It was beyond awesome, it was  complete joy.  
And, for the daughter with the determination,
the unknown disappeared in a flash.

THE LAST MILE OF THE JOURNEY
TO FIND THE GOLDEN KEY:

(a personal part of any story is best left to to the person)

GORDIE'S LAST ROUND - 



 THE FINISH LINE 

For the boxer, who could have guessed in their
wildest dreams, that it would be boxing that would
uncover his hopes, wishes and dreams.  What he found
in that moment was not gold medals or boxing titles, 
but the "golden key"and his tears would wash away
the pain of 40 years of uncertainty and loss:


A 2013 UPDATE: BC AMATEUR BOXING HALL OF FAME







Back To the Beginnig
of this two year period
"the symbolic golden key"


The above November 2008 post was the beginning
of the search for the golden key
and this post is the end of two years and six months
into the deep black unkown of fear, guilt, sorrow and pain.
 
Added video July 2014
 
   

5 comments:

  1. This is really an amazing and inspiring story, Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Months later, I would get a telephone call from Gordie that he was heading to
    Courtney, but when coming home instead of catching the ferry in Nanaimo,
    Gord and his son travelled a further 70 miles to make a trip to Victoria, and
    I still remember that afternoon when we met face-face since the early eighties.
    from Golden Gloves to the Golden Key that unlocked that door of uncertainty and fear for a father and daughter. It kind of reminds me of those few bars in
    an old song: "Some days last a thousand years, others pass like a flash of a spark: This story may not last a 1,000 years but those magic moments will last through the eyes, and ears and minds of three generations. of a family split apart at the beginning of a baby girl's circle of life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pleased to report the GORDIE LAWSON is a nominee for the
    BRITISH COLUMBIA AMATEUR BOXING HALL OF FAME for 2013.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The process for the selection in 2013 is in-progress three months after the previous comment, It is expected news will be made public before the end of February 2013.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great story -- happy for father and daughter.

    ReplyDelete