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The Most Deserving Hockey Hall Of Famer

After a puck smacked him in the face at age 19, blinding his right eye, he remained close-lipped regarding his impairment so no doctor would deem him unfit to play.
He was attacked by a throng of racist fans at Madison Square Garden who attempted to jerk him into the stands after they pulled his jersey over his head.
”People were grabbing at me, yelling at me, using all the old, ugly words, I was punching, kicking. I wasn’t going to let them pull me into the stands.”
The Boston Bruin forward had gone hard into the boards in the defensive zone of the Rangers. The wire mesh, which protected the fans from the puck and the players from the fans, had given way, and he was fed to an angry mob.
The New York Times tells us:
“The racial epithets burned in his ears. Beer ran down his neck. And a lot flashed through his mind before his teammates and opponents finally hauled him back through the fallen barrier.”
”I don’t even like to think now what might have happened had they got me up there. I just came to the conclusion at the time that the only safe place was on the ice.”
Who is this NHL player?
A black man from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada named Willie O’Ree.

O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player will be inducted into the HockeyHall of Fame on Monday as a member of the 2018 class.
He’ll join New Jersey Devils legendary goalie Martin Brodeur,  former Tampa Bay Lightning face of the franchise Martin St. Louis, Russian star Alexander Yakushev, Canadian women’s hockey standout and Canadian Women’s Hockey League Commissioner Jayna Hefford and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as the Hall’s newest inductees.
O’Ree becomes the third black person enshrined in the Hall of Fame, joining Edmonton Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr and Angela James, a Canadian women’s hockey superstar who is regarded as the female Wayne Gretzky.
He ultimately played just 45 games in the NHL, and 13 years would go by before anyone followed in his trailblazing footsteps.

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The climate O’Ree played in was an intolerant one. Hockey games were attended almost exclusively by whites. The NHL and its minor league teams played a game that promoted violence, especially against a man of color.
After being released by the Bruins in 1961, he never played another NHL game. But his pro career was not finished.
O’Ree spent 14 seasons in the Western Hockey League where he earned two scoring titles, netting 30+ goals four times, with a high of 38.
He played 50 games with the American Hockey League’s New Haven Nighthawks in 1972-73, scoring 20 goals and dishing 24 assists.
At 43 years old, O’Ree played his last game with the San Diego Hawks of the Pacific Hockey League where he scored 21 goals, 23 assists in 53 games.
He will be enshrined because of his work off the ice. O’Ree is responsible for the propagation of minority players and the diversification of the NHL and the sport of hockey itself.
Before Willie O’Ree, only the puck was black.
The NHL has intentionally ignored diversity from its inception and O’Ree has boldly challenged the old white guard.

The NHL can’t erase its racist past, but because of O’Ree, over 45,000 minority kids are enjoying the greatest sport on earth.
It is for these reasons that 83-year-old Willie O’Ree deserves induction more than anyone else.
“This is about the highest award that I’d ever get as far as playing hockey and my work with the ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ program,” O’Ree said.  “I’m blessed.”
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Dont Sleep On Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s Next Fight

It didn’t take long for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 knockouts) to schedule his next fight. As a matter of fact, Mexico’s new unified middleweight champion has been quite busy since defeating Gennady Golovkin by majority decision in their much anticipated rematch back in September. For starters, he’s been appearing at events and making the media rounds since his big win. Then earlier this month he announced when his next fight will be, where it will be, and who it will be against.
Canelo actually surprised the boxing world with his announcement. It won’t be a third fight with Golovkin (not yet anyway), and it won’t be against any other middleweight contenders. He’s actually moving up in weight for his next bout and it’ll be against someone who is mostly unknown to North American boxing fans. On December 15th, Alvarez will be making his debut at New York’s Madison Square Garden to challenge England’s Rocky Fielding for his WBA super middleweight title.
While this will be Fielding’s (27-1, 15 knockouts) first fight against a Mexican boxer, this will be his third fight overall against a North American opponent (defeated U.S. fighters Brian Vera and Patrick Maxwell earlier in his career). But this will also be his North American debut as all of his previous fights were in the United Kingdom against mostly European competition. This will also be a major step up in competition for him as he has never fought an opponent of Alvarez’s caliber and star power. Some say Fielding is foolish for taking this fight but you have to give him credit for giving it a shot.
Because of the odds against Fielding, many are expecting this to be a walk in the park for Alvarez. But this fight should be taken a little more seriously and here’s why…..
For starters, this will be the first of 11 fights on Canelo’s new “television” deal. Nearly two weeks ago, Alvarez signed a 5-year, $365 million deal with the streaming service DAZN that’s been taking boxing media by storm since it’s debut earlier this year. This comes on the heels of former long-time TV partner HBO announcing that they plan on ending their 45 years of boxing coverage at the end of 2018. This turned out to be one of the richest contracts in all of professional sports, and there’s always pressure when it comes to living up to these mega-contracts so Canelo must continue to perform at high level but under a thinner microscope now.
Let’s also remember that Alvarez will stepping into his fourth weight class for this fight. He started his career at welterweight, so for this fight he’ll have to weigh between 161 pounds and 168 pounds, the heaviest of his professional career. How adding that weight will impact him in the ring remains to be seen. Fielding on the other hand has been fighting in this weight class for almost his entire eight-year professional career.
Then there’s the historical significance of Alvarez looking for a world title in a third weight class. Before collecting belts at middleweight, Canelo made his name as a junior middleweight champion. If he defeats Fielding in December he’ll join some fellow countrymen in Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Jorge Arce, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Erik Morales on the list of Mexican-born boxers to win world championships in three or more weight classes. That’s quite the list to put your name on.
As overmatched as Fielding may be, he is eager to get in the ring with Alvarez. He wants to prove himself on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, and you have to give him credit for wanting to prove himself against one of the world’s best. Add the quality of opponent and mix in the fact that MSG -The World’s Most Famous Arena- is the venue, and that can motivate any athlete in any sport. This fight could be worth watching.
I’m not saying that Alvarez will dominate this fight, but I’m not saying that Fielding will pull off the upset either. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t totally sleep on this fight. Some may consider it just a cash grab, but we may actually get something worth watching regardless of who wins.
The post Dont Sleep On Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s Next Fight appeared first on Latino Athlete.

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