STELLARTON – In a special way, Babe Mason’s life has come full circle in 60 years.
Leslie (Babe) Mason represented Canada at the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, and 60 years later the 2016 Summer Games are in progress in Rio de Janeiro.
The only other time the Games have been contested in the Southern Hemisphere was in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.
Mason has been paying close attention to the Olympic boxing for the past few days.
“I have been looking forward to the chance to watch the boxing,” he said. “I like watching it. It sure brings back memories. I’d like to have known about boxing then what I know now.”
Born in Stellarton in 1944, Mason entered the Canadian Armed Forces in 1951 and served in Canada and Korea during his career.
Mason soon began boxing and in 1953 he won his camp championship in Wainwright, Alta.
In 1954 he won the Armed Forces Commonwealth championship in Korea as a welterweight.
In 1956 he won the Eastern Command title and went on to win the Canadian Army welterweight championship. He was also named top boxer. To earn the right to represent Canada, Mason defeated three former Canadian champions and was touted as Canada’s best hope for a medal. He lost in a very close decision.
He later won the Army’s welterweight title the next three years and captured the Canadian championship in 1957.
Mason was among subjects chosen by local author and retired judge Clyde Macdonald for his latest book on Pictou County locations, events and people.
“My memories of Babe Mason go back to 1956,” Macdonald said. “Two things happened in 1956 that are indelible in my mind. Don Larsen pitched the first perfect game in a World Series for the New York Yankees and Babe Mason went to the Olympics when he was 22 years of age. Babe has always been one of my idols and has remained a true role model.”
Mason said he was surprised to appear in the book.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I didn’t expect that much information.”
Mason was a multi-talented athlete and sports official.
He won the Eastern Command five-mile cross-country championship before the Olympics and the 200-metre breaststroke swimming championship after he gave up boxing following his trip to Melbourne.
Mason was also a track and field official at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton and was referee-in-chief for Nova Scotia boxing during the 1970s.
In Alberta, Mason won badminton district titles. He also attended the Buffalo Sabres’ NHL training camp in 1970.was inducted into the Canadian Forces Sports Hall of Fame and ranked 32nd among the top 50 Forces athletes.
Mason also attended two national volleyball and five national badminton championships.
He received Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 1978.
Clyde Macdonald, left, presents Leslie (Babe) Mason with a matted copy of the photo of him when he represented Canada at the 1956 Summer Games. (Goodwin photo)