Harry Marshall founded the Windsor Amateur Boxing Club (WABC). A tireless humanitarian, he aimed to develop the athletes he coached into upright citizens above all. Nevertheless, Marshall developed several champion boxers and his teams enjoyed unprecedented success in Michigan competitions.
Marshall was born in Liverpool, England on February 3, 1923. He immigrated to Canada with his family two years later, settling in Sault Ste. Marie. He arrived in Windsor in ’28. Later, Marshall attended W. D. Lowe Vocational School, where he was a WSSA Intermediate Track and Field Champion.
In 1941, Marshall joined the Canadian Army, 8 Recce Regiment. He saw active duty in Germany and Holland during World War II. During his time in the Armed Forces, Marshall was named 1945 Canadian Army Overseas Lightweight Boxing Champion.
After the War, Marshall boxed as an amateur. He won 27 fights and lost 3 before turning professional in 1946. From then until 1949, he won 82 fights, lost 7, and drew 3. He was knocked out only twice in 92 professional bouts.
In 1947, Ring Magazine ranked Marshall Canada’s number-three Lightweight fighter. He worked his way up the ranks to win several opportunities for a Canadian Lightweight title fight. Unfortunately, due to breaking his hands on five occasions, he never got his chance.
In 1968, Marshall founded the WABC. In the early years, he financed the Club out of his own pocket. He attended numerous city council meetings in an attempt to persuade Windsor to donate a building. He was successful in 1970, when the city granted use of a facility on Grove Avenue, which is still the home of the WABC today.
Marshall is remembered as a great humanitarian and tireless worker; he spent countless hours volunteering for the youth of Windsor. Marshall was able to combine his two great passions: young people and boxing. He provided youngsters with the opportunity to focus their energies productively and steer themselves in a positive direction as they entered adulthood.
As a boxing coach, Marshall’s main objective was never to produce champions. His primary aim was to provide a site at which local kids could work out and gain self-discipline and confidence that could benefits them in other areas of life.
As a general rule, boxing appeals to underprivileged children. Although it’s difficult to quantify, Marshall certainly saved several boys from heading into a life of crime. Countless Windsor families continue to appreciate Marshall’s efforts. He changed the lives of an incalculable number of Windsor boys by teaching them them how to throw a punch without getting in trouble.
At no time have young men using the WABC facilities paid any fees, nor have its coaches received any wages. Notably, the WABC provided an opportunity for men in area drug rehabilitation programs and the St. Leonard’s Halfway House to work out as part of their recoveries. The Windsor Amateur Boxing Club has touched the lives of many in the Windsor community in many different ways, and its graduates can be found in all walks of life. This, wonderfully, is Marshall’s legacy.
Despite his humanitarian bent, Marshall was an outstanding technical coach who developed many excellent boxers. In 1973, the WABC became the only Canadian boxing club to win a Michigan Golden Gloves Championship. Indeed, Marshall’s boxers won several Michigan Golden Gloves titles.
Also Under Marshall, Chris McCauley (aged 13) became the youngest Canadian to earn any boxing title (Flyweight) and Peter Reschke (aged 16) became the youngest Canadian to hold a provincial title (Lightweight). Pete Pestowka became the Canadian Amateur Middleweight Champion in 1996 while fighting for the Club.
Marshall was named the 1972 Kinsmen Club of Windsor Sportsman of the Year. That same year, WABC alums Charlie Stewart and Jim French won Gold Medals at the Canada Winter Games in Saskatoon. Both men went on to compete in the Canadian Olympic Trials.
Marshall retired from his association with the WABC in 1980. He passed away on November 13, 2004.