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Page 49 - Boxing's Sailor Don MacKinnon

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1997/6/1 (496 reads)

moves. You had to be in shape all the time if you were going to fight. You had always to be training on the heavy bag. There was lots of room on the ship to train every day. I still wanted to be a fighter more than anytiiing else. I first met Benny Woods in Saint John after I had joined die navy. He had been lightweight champion of the Maritimes and had won the Golden Glove Championship in Montreal in 1938.1 knocked on his door and we got to talking back and forth. I said, "You were a good fighter." He said, "Yeah, I'd like to take you up to fight." They had a gym at Haymar- ket Square in tiie 'forties. It was called the Al? lison Grounds. Johnny Lifford, the best fight? er to ever come out of Saint John, was there. So too was his trainer, Connie Rogan, who lived on Simonds Street in Saint John. Rogan smoked a clay pipe and he always had a big pair of boots on him. He had liniment which he made himself. If you had any hair on your body, on your chest, and you mbbed it with tiiat, the next day you had no hair! I laid in the dressing room one time with that on and I tiiought I was doing to die. My pores had been open from sweating. That Hniment would knock a horse down. And tiie smell of it!... They put me on the card as a welterweight. That was my first fight as an amateur. Right down in the old Saint John Fomm. I fought a fellow by the name of Al Red Chamberlain. He's dying with cancer down in Ontario now. Johnny Lifford was the referee and Rogan was my trainer. I was about the second or the tiiird fight that night. There were only three two-minute rounds in each fight There were 1200 or 1300 people in the crowd. I was a little bit nervous in the dressing room. When I came out onto the ring, I was thinking, Oh my God, the crowd, look at tiie crowd out there. How am I going to give this crowd a good fight? Were they going to boo me? Were they going to call me a bum? Then I heard the announcer: "In this corner we have Sail? or Don McKinnon, weighing 145 from Saint John, New Bmn- swick. In this comer to our left Al Red Chamberlain wearing box stripes." I wore green trunks. Later when I was fighting in Montreal, I had green tmnks with a shamrock on them. They called me "Sailor Don." I was in navy uniform. When they put my name down at the boxing club, they said, "Well, you're a sailor; we'll put you down as Sailor Don McKinnon" 'cause there was another navy guy fighting there too. His name was Pat Davis from Halifax; he was in the shore patrol. That kind of name stuck to me, although later I did also use other names. I was a brawler, a puncher, a fighter. I could take it and I could give it. I could punch with both hands. I was in there punching from bell to bell, never stopped. I was after my opponent all the time. When I went in to fight, I went in to fight. I did not go in to fool around. I was thinking about the crowd. You've got to please tiie crowd too. You have to have tiie crowd on your side. That's the type of fighter I was. When you stepped in the ring with me, you fought or you got out. I'm not saying that I was a great fighter, but I was on top of you all the time. Whether I won or lost I stayed to the last minute. Everyone I ever fought I made a fight out of. That's why I was well liked. If you were an aggressive fighter, you would give the crowd their money's worth. They would always say, "Bring him back. We want him back here again." That's why I was quite popular with the people. I was in tiiere to win, not to lose. I was in there to get up to the top. A boxer has a different style than mine. A box? er goes out there and he is always on the move. He bobs and weaves and jabs. He gets away from a fighter. There is a hell of a difference between a boxer and a slugger. A boxer gets away from punches, ducking and dodging. He is too fast to be a heavy puncher. New Waterford's Johnny Nemis, ' , , 'r, j a middleweight champion and 'as a guy who shuffled m to get a good shot. one of Cape Breton's noted trainers ' threw short punches better than jabs. A boxer stands up and jabs you. He keeps moving all the time. But a fighter is in there to get that shot with his left hook or right hand. You put your weight into it. The power comes from your legs. Cedar House Bakery and Restaurant 674-2929 OPEN DAILY FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER bread • scones • oatcakes • cookies • pies TRANS-CANADA HWY NEAR SEAL ISLAND BRIDGE All Types of Collision Work! Specializing in | Spot Repair SYDNEY'S COMPLETE COLLISION REPAIR CENTRE 539-2848 • 539-1033 61 BEECH • SYDNEY BIP 6R7 OUR COMMITMENT: For 27 years, Merv MacAulay has been helping make Nova Scotia roads safer. An equipment inspector/instructor with the Department of Transportation and Public Works, Men/ knows his way around a piece of heavy equipment. Whether inspecting equipment or training operators and crew, safety and performance are his top priorities. "1 want to make sure operators are comfortable using the equipment," says Merv. "It's my job to make sure people don't forget about safety • the crews see it each day, and want to remind drivers to use common sense that will keep all of us safe on our highways." At the Department of Transportation and Public Works, we are committed to providing Better Roads for Nova Scotia. Either through our Better Roads for Nova Scotia spring/summer maintenance programs like repaving, grading and gravelling roads or repairing and/or replacing bridge decks, it's all part of ensuring a safe, efficient highway infrastructure for you, the motorist. Remember to use caution and adjust your speed accordingly when travelling through construction sites. mm 'J'SCOTIA. Transportation and Public Works Honourable Don R. Downe, Minister 49
Cape Breton's Magazine
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