There was a time when nobody believed in Donny Lalonde. A couple of local hucksters figured Lalonde might be worth a buck or two as a club boxer, but he would never be good enough to be a World Champion. He did become a world champ and fought the greatest champion of the 1980's - Sugar Ray Leonard - and made $5 million.
Lalonde first fought professionally at age 19. As an amateur, he'd been an average fighter. He failed to make the 1980 Canadian Olympic team. But Lalonde was different. A tall, athletic light heavyweight - he'd been an accomplished minor hockey player - Lalonde was noticed by local promoter Jay Coleman who got him a fight against Roddy MacDonald for the Canadian Professional Boxing Federation's light-heavyweight crown.
In 1983, in front of a national TV audience, Lalonde won the title and others started to notice his skills. But for a couple of years, his career went nowhere. Now known as the "Golden Boy", he was reduced to promoting his own bouts. Then, he came under the wing of David Wolf, a veteran manager from New York City who took the career of the young Manitoban with the movie-star good looks and set him on the road to the World Championship.
Within two years, Wolf had Lalonde in the ring against Eddie Davis, a veteran champion, in a bout for the vacant World Boxing Council's light-heavyweight crown. Lalonde won easily and became the first Manitoban to win a world professional boxing title. Lalonde went on to defend his title against Leslie (The Tiger) Stewart in Trinidad and then fought Leonard in Las Vegas in one of the most important bouts of 1988. Lalonde lost in nine rounds but gave a tremendous account of himself.