• Sport: Boxing
  • Position: Community Sporting Builder
  • Nominated In: 2017

We can credit activities at the old YMCA on Peter Street for starting McKenzie on his career in sports. Living on Mary Street with two maiden aunts who raised him, the young lad spent countless hours at the Y. Merv excelled in hockey, lacrosse, football and swimming. He was a member of an Orillia junior lacrosse team that won the Minto Cup. He served overseas in the RCAF.

The list of his credentials is impressive: a member of the Championship Committee of the World Boxing Association, Vice-President of the Canadian Professional Boxing Federation, Commissioner of the Ontario Lacrosse Association Senior League.

His appointment as Ontario Athletic Commissioner came in 1953 to a man who had all the obvious qualifications for the position. As athletic commissioner he had strict control over boxing and wrestling in the province and in 1955 he cancelled Sunday boxing and wrestling cards.

He was instrumental in setting up the 1966 heavyweight bout between Muhammad Ali and George Chuvalo of Toronto at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. Also as Commissioner, he was able to help many communities with sports programs. He never forgot his home town and returned many times to help out at community events here.

He died on January 23, 1977, at age 55