For almost two decades Scotty Olson of Edmonton, Alberta was one of the most recognizable faces in Canadian boxing. Even though most Canadians remember Lennox Lewis and Razor Ruddock during Olson’s era (mostly because they competed in the higher profile heavyweight weight class), it is important that the great Canadian boxers from the lighter weight classes are remembered as well.
Olson’s success came in an outstanding period in Canadian boxing. His first big win of his boxing career came at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland. Olson upset Mark Epton of England in the light flyweight weight class. It was one of six gold medals that Canada won in boxing at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. Olson later represented Canada at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual Olympic silver medalist Michael Carbajal of the United States.
According to boxrec.com, Olson participated in 40 professional bouts from 1990 to 2002. In that time frame, he posted a record of 34 wins, four losses and two draws. From 1994 to 1998, Olson was the International Boxing Organization world flyweight champion.
On December 9, 1994, Olson became the IBO world flyweight champion when he beat Roger Espanola of the Philippines at the Edmonton Convention Centre. He then successfully defended his title on five separate occasions.
Olson also had an opportunity to fight for the International Boxing Association Light Flyweight Title (but once again lost to Carbajal) on March 22, 1997. On February 15, 2002, he fought for the final time of his professional boxing career. Olson lost to Steve Molitor of Sarnia, Ontario for the Canadian Super Bantamweight Title.
Olson first got interested in the sport of boxing after meeting Canadian lightweight champion Al Ford at a shopping mall in Edmonton. Olson had played baseball, hockey, swimming and judo as a child. However he didn’t excel in any of those sports. Due to the fact he was very small (Olson grew to only five feet), his size put him at a disadvantage when trying to compete in sports against his peers.
In an interesting story, Olson also remembers the first time he told his mother he wanted to be a boxer.
“It wasn’t just no,” Olson recalls in an interview for the Independent Sports News. “It was ‘hell no’. If you are a mom and you have a son who has limited athletic ability, the last sport you would let him try is boxing.”
Over time, Olson’s family recognized Scotty’s passion for boxing. They bought him a heavy bag to punch. Olson would spend hours and hours punching the bag, and even missed school to pursue his passion. The word soon got out that Olson was skipping his classes. His mother then made Scotty a deal. He could pursue boxing on the condition that he went back to school.
Olson remembers his first amateur fight extremely well. He knocked down his opponent. However, it was what Olson did next that he remembers most. He went over to his opponent and helped him up. Olson did not realize at the time that is not what boxers normally do after winning a match.
He also remembers the great excitement from the fans.
“I heard these cheers. It was the roar of the crowd. I was really happy that people enjoyed watching what I did. The crowd had never seen a 95 pound boxer knock someone out before.”
In 1985, when Scotty was only 17 years old, he was seen by Canadian boxing training and coaching legend Russ Anber of Montreal. Anber called Olson “the bulldog”. The nickname would continue. Anber meanwhile went on to become the lead boxing analyst for CBC’s Olympic coverage and be analyst of a regular program on TSN with Darren Dutchyshen titled “In This Corner with Russ Anber”.
During Olson’s career it was always a personal struggle to make the weight for the men’s light flyweight division (limit of 106 pounds at the time) at the amateur level and 108 pounds in the light flyweight division at the professional level. There were times that Olson admits he was only fighting at 40% capacity because he used significant amount of energy to lose the necessary weight to fight in the flyweight division.
When Olson had his final fight in 2002, he was not ready to retire. However he injured his back in the latter stages of his professional career while training and would decide his fight against Molitor in Edmonton would be the final fight of his career.
“I would have loved that fight back under different circumstances,” recalls Olson.
After his boxing career, it took time for Olson to find another job where he had the same passion as boxing. Olson knew he liked communicating with people. After the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, he sold vacuums for a short time. Upon his retirement, Olson decided to give selling cars a try.
Olson flourished in his new job, and received regular awards for top salesman at Kentwood Ford in Edmonton. However, in 2015, Olson’s life changed significantly. He suffered two heart attacks and needed to take a medical leave of absence from selling cars.
While on his medical leave, Olson has returned to boxing. He has been working with Edmonton boxer Ryan Ford and has been giving him some words of wisdom.
“Ryan Ford contacted me and asked me to help him out. What a blessing that was. This kid wants it. He wants it so much. He has a wonderful wife and two beautiful kids. He trains so hard and listens to things that I say. I refine things for him and know for a fact that I am an asset. It has been a nicer feeling to be part of somebody else’s success. It has been more satisfying than any wins I have had.”
Ryan Ford ironically is the son of Al Ford, the man responsible for inspiring Olson as a youngster. Ryan Ford is relatively new to boxing. Over the last year he made the transition from MMA where he posted a record of 22 wins and five losses as a mixed martial artist in non-UFC bouts.
The transition to boxing has been successful for Ford. He has won his first eight bouts as a professional light heavyweight boxer. In his last fight, a win over Victor Manuel Palacios of Mexico on September 9, Olson was in Ford’s corner.
In the future, Olson has great interest in returning to his role as a car salesman. However, he admits the need to cut back a little on his hours, as he was spending 12 hours a day with his job.
For those aspiring boxers, Olson encourages them to get an education. He says an education is very important for boxers today because they need something to fall back on if their boxing career is not as successful as they hoped it would be.