Willie de Wit

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Willie de Wit
Personal information
Born June 13, 1961

William Theodore "Willie" de Wit (born June 13, 1961 in Three Hills, Alberta) is a Canadian criminal defence lawyer [1] and retired professional Canadian boxer. De Wit fought for Canada and won the Heavyweight silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics. De Wit and teammate Shawn O'Sullivan were heavily touted going into the Games, as both had won the world championship.

Background[edit]

De Wit played football in high school and was an all-star quarterback. He was offered a scholarship to the University of Alberta, but decided to quit football after growing tired of team sports after losing patience with his high school teammates. He began going to a Grande Prairie health club, which was run by a man named Jim Murrie. At the time, de Wit's father Len was terminally ill with a brain tumor so Willie started hitting the heavy bags to stay out of the house and to stay in shape. Impressed with his dedication and size, Murrie introduced de Wit to Dr. Harry Snatic a dentist and rancher who had been a youth boxing coach in Louisiana before moving his family in 1971 to Beaverlodge which is a small village near Grande Prairie, who worked out with de Wit three times a week, first in the health club, until it went out of business a short time later, and then in the de Wits' unheated garage where temperatures would often get to 10 or 20 degrees below zero.

De Wit's first fight came at the Alberta provincial championships, in March 1979 in Medicine Hat. Snatic entered deWit in the light heavyweight intermediate novice division for boxers age 17 to 20 with less than 10 fights. De Wit knocked out his first opponent in 20 seconds - which caused the coaches of the six other fighters in the division to pull their fighters. De Wit had won his first championship. Snatic then entered Willie in the British Columbia Golden Glove championships. where he fought 18-year-old Shane Anderson who was the western Canadian 178-pound champion and a veteran of about 40 fights. De Wit lost by decision. But he did beat Anderson in two of three return matches. In the last of those bouts, de Wit knocked out Anderson, who never fought again.

Snatic then took Willie to fight at the Washington State Penitentiary where he knocked out his opponent in the opening minute of the first round, nearly causing a prison riot. Afterwards in April 1982 Snatic decided to sell his ranch and moved to Calgary. de Wit went with him in order to find sparring partners, and to train with a Ugandan exile named Mansoor Esmail, who was Calgary's top boxing coach, and was considered a physical-conditioning genius.

Willie's first major victory came in Las Vegas in June 1982 when he knocked out Cuba's Pedro Cardenas to win his first North American title. Then he won gold at the Commonwealth Games; it took him a total of three minutes and 12 seconds to knock out three opponents. In March 1983 he defeated Aleksandr Yagubkin of the U.S.S.R. to win the world title. Then in September 1983 he defended his North American title against highly touted Cuban Aurelio Toyo. De Wit was not perfect, however, losing a decision to Arnold Vanderlyde in January 1983.

Leading up to the 1984 Olympics, a benefit in Calgary starring boxing fan Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett raised $70,000 to finance Willie's training. At this point Snatic began importing professional sparring partners from the United States.

Olympics[edit]

At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics de Wit lost the gold medal match to Henry Tillman of the United States. Heading into the games, de Wit and fellow Canadian Shawn O' Sullivan were considered favorites, especially by Canadians who fully expected de Wit to win the gold. De Wit felt the pressure and says that he does not have many good memories of the games.[2]

Pro career and later life[edit]

Tabbed early as a "Great White Hope", de Wit turned professional immediately after the Olympics and persuaded by a contract offer reportedly worth $5 million, began to train and fight out of Burnet, Texas. He then defeated Ken Lakusta to capture the Canadian heavyweight championship.

De Wit had an otherwise uneventful pro career, and was knocked down four times in a second round TKO loss to Bert Cooper in 1987. The loss to Cooper was de Wit's only career defeat, as he retired after six consecutive wins, the last of which being a unanimous decision victory over Henry Tillman. [3]

After announcing his retirement he started a concrete surfacing company in California, which he eventually left to return to Canada. A friend of his who was a judge, suggested he get an education and become a lawyer. De Wit returned to school and graduated from the University of Alberta in 1994 with a law degree.[4] He articled to the Alberta Court of Appeal and the civil law firm of Howard Mackie and was called to the Alberta Bar in September 1995. After practicing with Howard Mackie, de Wit joined the criminal defence firm of Evans Martin Wilson (now Wolch, Hursh, deWit, Silverberg, & Watts) in 1996 and he remains with the firm until this day, being its longest standing member. [5]

In 1995 de Wit was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. He also has a road named after him in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

Professional boxing record[edit]

21 Wins (14 knockouts, 7 decisions), 1 Loss (1 knockout), 1 Draw [2]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Win 17-3 United States Henry Tillman UD 10 29/03/1988 Canada Edmonton, Alberta 100-94, 98-94, 97-95.
Win 15-5-1 Canada Tony "The Kid" Morrison UD 10 20/02/1988 Canada Centre 200, Sydney, Nova Scotia Canada Heavyweight Title.
Win 12-1-1 United States Scott Wheaton UD 10 13/12/1987 Canada Calgary, Alberta
Win 16-8 United States Donnie Long RTD 4 03/10/1987 Canada Grande Prairie, Alberta Long did not come out for the fourth round.
Win 16-10 Canada Ken Lakusta KO 5 24/08/1987 Canada Northlands Agricom, Edmonton, Alberta Canada Heavyweight Title. Lakusta knocked out at 2:32 of the fifth round.
Win 13-13 United States Terry Mims KO 2 21/05/1987 United States Arco Arena, Sacramento, California Mims knocked out at 1:35 of the second round.
Loss 15-1 United States Bert Cooper TKO 2 14/02/1987 Canada Regina, Saskatchewan Referee stopped the bout at 2:58 of the second round.
Win 6-2-1 United States Lorenzo Canady TKO 4 13/12/1986 Canada Regina Agridome, Regina Saskatchewan Referee stopped the bout at 1:04 of the fourth round.
Win 16-9-2 Canada Conroy Nelson TKO 4 10/11/1986 Canada Halifax Metro Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada Heavyweight Title.
Win 9-2-1 United States Andrew Stokes UD 10 30/09/1986 Canada Agridome, Edmonton, Alberta 100-91, 100-92, 99-92.
Win 16-8 Canada Ken Lakusta UD 12 14/06/1986 Canada Northlands Coliseum, Edmonton, Alberta Canada Heavyweight Title. 116-114, 120-111, 118-113.
Win 10-0 United States Mike Acey TKO 3 03/05/1986 Canada Regina Agridome, Regina, Saskatchewan
Win 17-5 United States Jeff "Blonde Bomber" Jordan RTD 4 20/03/1986 Canada Stampede Corral, Calgary, Alberta Jordan did not come out for the fifth round.
Win 10-0 United States George Graham TKO 2 03/02/1986 Canada Northlands Agricom, Edmonton, Alberta
Win 12-0-1 United States Scott Wheaton UD 10 13/12/1985 Canada Stampede Corral, Calgary, Alberta
Win 10-8-2 United States Otis Bates KO 3 03/10/1985 United States Austin, Texas
Win 3-0-1 United States Marion Bridges TKO 2 11/09/1985 United States Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 6-2-1 United States Earl Lewis TKO 3 11/07/1985 United States Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey Referee stopped the bout at 2:00 of the third round.
Win 5-4-1 United States Sterling Benjamin UD 6 05/06/1985 United States Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Draw 5-1-1 Canada Alex Williamson PTS 6 15/04/1985 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada 59-55, 56-57, 57-57.
Win 19-12-1 Tonga Tony Pelu KO 2 05/03/1985 United States Dallas Convention Center Arena, Dallas, Texas Pelu knocked out at 2:49 of the second round.
Win 2-1 United States Inoke Katoa TKO 4 24/01/1985 United States Showboat Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 0-2 United States Walter E.M. Morris TKO 2 01/12/1984 Canada Northlands Coliseum, Edmonton, Alberta

References[edit]

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