Harvey Reti, founder of Yukon Boxing club, dead at 82

Celebrated Yukon coach and former boxing champion Harvey Reti died this week, aged 82.

Reti was known for founding the Yukon Boxing club in Whitehorse and for his work coaching others in the sport.

"Harvey was always involved in boxing, that was his love," said Mabel Reti, his wife.

A former Canadian boxing champion, Reti won bronze at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, and competed at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He held the national light-welterweight title from 1961 to 1964.

Reti spent nearly 24 years in the Canadian Forces, as a member of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

He joined in 1958, and one year later, met his wife, Mabel, who was training as a nurse at the time.

"We met, I think, two weeks [later] we were engaged, and we were married in a month," said Mabel. "We've been married 56 years and six months."

"He's my partner. Every time I turn around, he's not there."

Alberta Sports Hall of Fame & Museum

Boxing for life

Reti's daughter, Debra-Leigh, said her dad spoke frequently about his childhood on a farm in Taber, Alta.

She said he learned to yodel from the radio and was a fan of western stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

"Dad and his brother Roy [Reti] used to practise all the Roy Rogers tricks on the horse — hanging off the side, standing up on the horse," said Debra-Leigh. "They were actually all old workhorses they were doing these tricks on."

Debra-Leigh said Reti started boxing at 17. Even though he never pursued a professional boxing career, he taught boxing wherever the family lived, and founded a boxing club on moving to Whitehorse.

She remembered her father using boxing to coach young men from difficult backgrounds how to better their lives with hard work and discipline.

"To this day, I meet people that I don't even know, and they say, 'your dad trained me in boxing,' and they tell me what that did for their lives," she said.

"What he represented in my life, in giving me a foundation in God, being concerned about my spirituality — he was a man of integrity and character, and I never had to wonder if my dad was doing wrong," she said.

"I see it in my brothers … I see it in some of the grandchildren — that same character passed down."

A memorial service for Reti is being held Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Nàkwät'à Kų̀ Potlatch House in Whitehorse.