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Mitchell Chuvalo and the Tragic Chuvalo Family

Growing up in Canada as the son of the Canadian Boxing Champion, George Chuvalo, and as a guy that went toe to toe with Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry and Ernie Terrell in 93 Heavyweight fights, must have paid off in the school yards. In spite of fighting about every top guy in the best Heavyweight era of all time, George Chuvalo was never once knocked off his feet.

I would imagine on the school yards of Toronto, Canada, when push came to shove that it would have been hard for George Chuvalo’s son to not say that his dad can whip your dad. If the son actually did say that, he wouldn’t have been wrong.

Over his career, Chuvalo knocked out 63 tough men in the boxing ring, and he probably wouldn’t be a man it would be wise to cross. He was known as the Great White Canadian Hope during the end of an era where white society wanted a white man to become Heavyweight Champion of the World. If you were a decent fighter and you were white and a Heavyweight boxer, you could be called the Great

White Hope whether you like it or not. Make no mistake about it, George Chuvalo was more than a decent fighter. He was just born at the wrong time.

Mitchell Chuvalo, George’s oldest son played Fullback and Linebacker in football at Toronto’s Western Tech High School. He also competed in Wrestling, Track and Weightlifting.

Far across the North American continent from Toronto, in Tallahassee, Florida, Bobby Bowden took over as the head coach at Florida State in 1976. Generally, when a new coach comes in, his first recruiting class tends to be mediocre because there’s little time to build relationships with the recruits. If the newly hired coach is going to succeed in building a program at his new school, then his first real recruiting class after his first full season should be a really good one.

Bowden definitely succeeded at Florida State and his 1977 recruiting class changed the football history for the Seminoles. Ron Simmons 1977

That class included guys that would change the Florida State program forever, like Ron Simmons, Ernie Sims, Rick Stockstill, Bobby Butler, Monk Bonasorte and many more. Simmons, in particular was a game changer and demonstrated for real that Bobby Bowden was the next big thing.

That Florida State recruiting class contained 35 signatures from high school football players. Those were different times and different rules were in effect.

One of those signatures came from the son of George Chuvalo, Mitchell. Signing recruits out of Canada, or other countries was kind of rare back then.

Mitchell was recruited as a Fullback, even though he was a bit undersized at 5-9, 190. Back in the 1970’s players weren’t as huge as they are now and there were 230 to 250 pound Offensive Linemen. Guys bigger than that were considered huge.

The young Chuvalo was All-Conference for three seasons in a row and was obviously tough like his

father. Florida State and Bobby Bowden took a chance on him and offered him a football scholarship.

Things did not work out for Chuvalo at Florida State after he injured his knee. He returned home and graduated from Guelph University. Yes, I had never heard of it either, but it’s a somewhat new University near his home in Canada.

Life was not easy for the Chuvalo family. Life isn’t easy for a lot of people, but the Chuvalo’s knew tragedy and grief like few others. How George and Mitchell Chuvalo survived it is another example of their toughness.

Smack, Big H, China White, Junk, Skag, Dope or whatever other street name you want to place on Heroin did this family in.

 

Young George Chuvalo married Lynn, who was the love of his life when she was 15 years old and she had their first son, Mitchell, when she was 16. She dropped out of high school when she was a freshman and became a mother.

She had 4 boys by the time she was 20 years old. Mitchell was followed by Steven, George Jr, and Jesse. Later, they had a baby girl named Vanessa.

In a far too common story, Jesse was in a motorcycle accident and got addicted to pain killers. The pain killers were temporary, so to feed his new addiction, he turned to Heroin. Older brothers Steven and George also began using Heroin at that time.

After becoming depressed over his addiction, the 20 year old Jesse shot himself in his own bed. The brothers were apparently really close and Jesse’s death really fueled the addictions in Steven and

George Jr.

Mitchell was off at college, but the remaining two brothers turned to crime to support their need for smack. They were both busted by the police and sentenced to prison sentences.

After serving his time, he was only out a short time before George was found overdosed at the age of 30. A short time after the shocking death of another son, George Chuvalo’s beloved wife Lynn could not deal with all of the pain of losing two children and took enough prescription pills to commit suicide.

It wasn’t over yet for the Chuvalo family.

Steven, while in prison began to get his life together. He finished high school and started college. But, upon getting out of prison, Steven just couldn’t stay away from his great love, Heroin. He was found by his sister shortly after his release from the joint overdosed.

 

George Chuvalo, in spite of getting whacked in the head many times by some of the greatest boxers to ever live, is an outstanding public speaker. He is a natural there as much as he was in the boxing ring. After living through such tragedies, George traveled to wherever he could and spoke to kids about the dangers of drug addictions.

 

Mitchell managed to graduate college and became a teacher and coach at the high school he

graduated from. There, he gives back to the community by inspiring kids to take a better path.

 

 

Only a person that’s been through such hardship and pain that the Chuvalo’s have endured can possibly even begin to understand.

I lost a brother in the prime of his life, but I can’t imagine losing 3 of them. Or, losing my mother because she couldn’t deal with what life had handed out to her.

 

George Chuvalo was described as having the best chin of all time in boxing because he was never knocked off his feet. Tragedy didn’t knock him to the ground, either.

 

Mitchell Chuvalo never fought professionally, but he did learn to take a punch just like his father.

I can only wish I was as tough as I struggle with my own problems.