Former Slave Laker learned to box in the military

Brought the sport to Slave Lake

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

A lot has been written about former Slave Laker Sam Sinclair.

When his son Gordon Sinclair, stopped by The Leader office to talk about his late father, he had an Edmonton Journal article, forestry portfolio, and other articles.

Over his lifetime, Sam received various awards and recognition for his work with the Métis Nation, the National Aboriginal Veterans Association, and for boxing.

“Whether on the battlefields of Europe during the Second World War, in the boxing ring, or in the political arena, Sam Sinclair was a fighter,” says Cheryl Petten, in a Windspeaker.com article published November 6, 2017.

Sam enlisted when he was 15, says Gordon.

Petten goes into more detail. Sam’s commanding officer got wind that he was under age. However, Sam stuck to his story. This combined with a case of mistaken identity allowed him to get away with it.

“He (Sam) didn’t talk to much about the war,” says Gordon. “He’d talk about the odd individual.”

One thing he did take away from the military was a passion for boxing.
“That’s where he learned,” says Gordon. “They were eating mutton,” all the time, but he noticed that there were guys at another table getting better food. He learned that they were in the boxing club.

“Next week, dad was in the boxing club,” says Gordon, adding, it was a very Sinclair thing to do.

Sam was a good boxer, says Gordon, who followed in his father’s footsteps. His dad started a boxing club in Slave Lake in the late 1950s or early ‘60s. This club won four provincial championships. When he moved to Hinton for work, he started another club, which also did well.

When Gordon left home to box in Vancouver, his dad gave him $65, a lot of money at the time, and a piece of advice: “You work harder than the guy next to you. You learn off people that you work with.”

At the time, Gordon didn’t think much of this, but has learned to see this as good advice.

“One of the better things,” about his dad, says Gordon, was “being brought up to work hard. He was really into sports. He got us all playing baseball every summer. We had a very competitive ball team.”

“He cared about people and his family,” Gordon adds. “He wasn’t afraid to talk to anyone.” In his life, his dad spoke to everyone from locals to the pope.

An example of Sam’s care for people comes from a story that someone told Gordon. When Sam was still new to the Hinton area, he showed up one day in his old truck, the man said. Sam said ‘Tansi, tansi’, hello, hello. He was carrying a box of groceries.

Gordon thinks this was a good way to introduce himself to people who had very little. Something his father likely learned from his mother, who during the 1930s, handed out bags of dried meat.

Sam died November 29, 2005.

Sam Sinclair, later in life, near a remembrance wall.
Sam Sinclair in uniform as a young soldier.

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