Patrick Drouillard, commonly known as “Patsy” or “The Windsor Wonder,” was one of our region’s most colourful boxers during the early days of the 20th Century. A Canadian Lightweight Champion, he battled several of the great fighters of his era, including the world champions Johnny Dundee, Freddie Welsh, and Rocky Kansas. Drouillard was the first Windsor boxer to hold any national title.
Drouillard was born in Windsor, on October 17, 1893.
During a high-profile career that began in 1908, Drouillard was a local sports idol who ensured the city of Windsor was peppered throughout the sports pages across Canada and the United States. “Windsor’s Pat Drouillard whips Chicago’s Frankie White in Grand Rapids”, read one headline. “Windsor boxer renders good account of himself in Rochester, New York ring”; “Patsy Drouillard of Windsor beats O’Leary at Winnipeg”; and “Windsor’s Drouillard and New York’s Dundee put up whirlwind bout” were others.
Drouillard eventually earned the opportunity to fight Ottawa’s Billy Allen for the Canadian Lightweight Championship. The fight took place in Toronto on November 9, 1911. Although a Toronto newspaper backed Drouillard to win the bout, he ultimately lost the fight on points. In a staggering display of determination, Drouillard avoided a knockout and dragged the fight out to a full 12 rounds despite breaking both of his hands in the second.
A rematch took place in May of the following year. This time, Drouillard captured the title. The fight was a showcase of, according to the Toronto Globe, “the most scientific, fastest, and cleanest boxing seen in Toronto in years.” Drouillard, the first Windsor boxer to hold any national championship, kept the belt from 1912 to 1917. He retired undefeated in title contests.
On March 24, 1915 at the old Windsor Athletic Club, Drouillard fought the American Freddie Welsh, then lightweight champion of the world. Drouillard acquitted himself well, more than holding his own against the stiff, world-class opposition. “Drouillard Made Good Show With Champion,” read the next day’s Windsor Evening Record headline. “[F]or every blow that Welsh slipped across,” read the article, “‘Patsy’ was right there with a return.”
All in all, Drouillard contested approximately 180 total fights over the course of his career. At his peak, he boxed as many as 20 times in a single year.
Drouillard continued to be involved in boxing following his retirement from the ring. From 1917 through to the mid-1940s, he ran a gymnasium, promoted local fights, and managed area boxers. As a manager, Drouillard’s nephew Orval was his prized protégé. In the 1930s, Orval Drouillard impressively filled his uncle’s shoes as he stood toe to toe with several of his division’s finest fighters, including Henry Armstrong and Lou Ambers. In 1990, he too was inducted into the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame.
Patrick Drouillard passed away on August 18, 1958.