Monday, 13 May 2013

Al Sparks: Canadian Boxing Champion

AL SINCLAIR SPARKS (1933 - 2008)

Al Sparks - Boxer  
Ring record of Al Sparks (1956 to 1977) 

The professional boxing journey of Al Sparks began in 1956 accordin to the records
\as documented in the "Winnipeg Free Pres" ,  The bout was a prelim fight to the card
headlined by the Wilfie Greaves - Allan Kennedy bout.  The final bout was expectd
to be in 1973, but in 1977, Sparks made a special one bout comeback with a bout
 against George Jerome.  Others on that 1977 show in Winnipeg were
Al Ford, Clyde Gray, Ralph Racine and Wayne Caplette and others.

1958: THE BIG TEST - Ten Round Main Event with AL ANDREWS
For Al Spark the bout against Andrew would be a test to see if he could
go the distance with an experienced boxer who had faced many top names
 in the sport.   Andrews had defeated the likes of chuck Davey and Gil Turner
and had gone the distance with Joey Giardello, Willie Pastrano and Gene Fullmer.
Al Sparks would pass the test, go the distance and win the decision.

The Sixties:
In 1960, Sparks would fight in the Gardens in Vancouber in the main event
against a big name in boxing being Bobo Olson, in the 
semi main Jimmy walters would score a first round KO.

Western Canadian and Canadian Champion
During the sixties, Sparks would win and defend the western Canadian 
heavyweight title and in 1968, Sparks would win the Canadian 
light-heavyweight title in Regina with a 12 round victory over Leslie Borden

As the Canadian light-heavyweight champion, Al would defend his title
then lose it to Rene Durell and regain it.  Then would come a shot at 
the Commonwealth title with Bob Dunlop in australia that went the 
distance with Dunlop getting the decision.

Then came that tragic moment in the February 21, 1972 bout
at the Winnipeg arena with Stewart Gray.  He would never be
the same, he would then drop the title to Gary Summerhayes and have
one more  fight then retire until that one win comeback in '77.

Following his retirement as a boxer, Al would continue to be
involved with the sport as a trainer to help others improve.

Manitobe Sports Hall of Fame:

* It would take 19years
after retiring as a boxer
but this former amateur
and professional boxer
would be inducted into
the Manitoba Sports
Hall of Fame in 1996

Some of the words
about Sparks in the
Hall are:

"A dedicated athlete,
Al Sparks trained hard and fought with integrity
simple because he loved and respected 
the sport of boxing."

Golden Memories and Moments:

One of my memories of Al Sparks took place
during the 1968/69 boxing season at the 
Vancouver Firefighters when Al  dropped in to
train.  A friend of mine named Dan Wright
a novice heavyweight boxer  had recently
joined the club.  I would ask Al Sparks if he would
spar with the "newbie" and Al had no hesitation.
So I told coach Bert Lowes while Dan was racing to
get some gloves.  Then all of sudden, Bert shouted
out to Dan and said: "Those gloves belong to Mr. Sparks".
It seems in the thrill of being told Al Sparks wanted to
spar with him, Dan ,who would later be called "Dynamite",
 rushed over to grab the newest nicest pair of gloves
but would end up using a regular pair of old training gloves
following the Lowes' caution before he got in the ring.
Of course, the champion Al Sparks went easy on the 
eager young Dan Wright, but it is a memory that will
last a lifetime. 

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