Government of Canada commemorates Larry Gains (1900-1983) as a person of national significance for his achievements as a heavyweight fighter who broke down racial barriers in the boxing world
November 1, 2023 Toronto, ON Parks Canada
Today, the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre commemorated the national historic significance of Larry Gains at a special plaque unveiling ceremony at the Cabbagetown Boxing Club in Toronto, ON. The unveiling was made on behalf of the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada.
Born in Toronto in 1900, Larry Gains trained at Toronto’s Praestamus Athletic Club, an organization for Black boxers. Larry Gains’ reputation as a successful amateur boxer quickly grew. Throughout his career as one of the top heavyweights of his era, Gains was subject to discrimination, which prevented non-white boxers from competing for top-level titles.
In 1923, Gains moved to England due to racial discrimination he faced in North America that limited his career prospects. Like other Black boxers from North America who moved to Europe, Gains hoped that his talents as an athlete would be given equal consideration to other fighters. In 1927, Gains won his first professional title, that of Canadian Heavyweight Champion. In 1932, Gains won the British Empire Heavyweight Title, yet racial prejudice continued to limit his success. Gains was barred from competing for the English Heavyweight Title and the World Heavyweight Title, despite being a legitimate contender for both championships. He officially retired from boxing in 1941.
The Government of Canada, through Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant people, places, and events that shaped this country as one way of helping Canadians connect with their past. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present.
The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,240 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historic event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application.
“Larry Gains was a talented and accomplished heavyweight fighter. Throughout his career, he demonstrated his resilience and determination as an athlete, while highlighting the consequences of racial prejudice in boxing. Designations such as Larry Gains increases awareness of the diversity of person’s who have contributed to Canada’s history. I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the life story of Larry Gains, the history of sport in Canada, and the challenges that Black athletes have had to face along the way.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“The unveiling of this plaque to commemorate Larry Gains’ life is about remembering his fight both inside and outside the ring. It serves as a reminder of many contributions of Black Canadians have made to help shape our country into what it is today – while inspiring us to continue championing true inclusivity. Black history is Canadian history.”
The Honourable Marci Ien,
Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre
Larry Gains’ first amateur competition was versus reigning amateur champion Charlie McDoulton, against whom he lost. From that fight, Gains was scouted by a local trainer, who worked with him for several months. Gains went on to win the rematch against McDoulton.
After losing his first fight in England, Larry Gains relocated to Paris and Germany where many of his early fights took place. His biggest fight during this time was August 28, 1925, where he knocked out future World Heavyweight Champion Max Schmeling in the second round.
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque commemorating Larry Gains was unveiled in Toronto which is situated on the Treaty Land and traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, as well as the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples.
Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national significance of persons, places, and events that have marked Canada’s history. Together with Parks Canada, the Board ensures that subjects of national historic significance are recognized under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration and these important stories are shared with Canadians.
Parks Canada is committed to working with Canadians in our efforts to tell broader, more inclusive stories in the places that it manages. In support of this goal, the Framework for History and Commemoration outlines a comprehensive, and engaging approach to sharing Canada’s history through diverse perspectives, including shedding light on tragic and difficult periods of Canada’s past.
Communications Officer, Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Southwestern Ontario Field Unit
- Date modified: