He lived up to his nickname in the boxing ring, a tenacious and rawhide-tough flyweight who always fought bigger than his actual size.
But as fearsome as he was in his chosen profession, Scotty ‘Bulldog’ Olson was, and still is, a mild-mannered, colourful individual. Especially now — seven years after his retirement from the ring — as a devoted father of two young daughters.
Olson, a car salesman in Edmonton, is not currently involved in boxing, but that could change down the road.
“I have daughters who are 10 and nearly eight and once they get a little more independent I’ll consider going to a gym and helping out as a coach,” he said Friday, at a press conference preceding the 2009 Alberta Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet at the Capri Centre.
“For now, I am a family man, that’s what I’m all about. When I have free time I decide to spend it with my kids. Once they’re a little older I’m sure they’ll want me out of the house.”
Olson was one of 10 former athletes and builders inducted into the provincial shrine Friday night, joining the likes of Duff Gibson (skeleton), Larry Robinson (football), Vic Stasiuk (hockey) and Innisfal’s Jack Daines, honoured as a rodeo builder.
“My goodness, I am absolutely honoured and to have this happen here in Red Deer with a lot of family living in this area . . . it’s a dream come true for me,” said Olson.
As a child and teenager, the Edmonton native often visited relatives in Central Alberta.
“I’d spend summers here, on my uncle’s farm near Markerville,” he reminisced. “I have family in Innisfail and here in Red Deer. I’ve always had a lot of support from this area and it’s sure nice for my family that they can be a part of this.”
Olson, who won a gold medal in the 48-kg division at the 1986 Commonwealth Games and posted a 2-1 record in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, turned pro in 1990 and two years later captured the International Boxing Federation/U.S. Boxing Association flyweight title.
He went on to claim the IBF world flyweight championship in 1996. He recorded 34 wins, two draws and four losses in a 40-bout professional career that included a 1993 sixth-round, technical-knockout victory over little-known Mexican Mario Alberto Cruz Alfaro at the Centrium.
Olson admitted, with a chuckle, that he still misses the roar of the crowd.
“I sell a lot of cars these days and I have fun doing it,” he said. “I enjoy people and it’s a good people business. But no matter how many cars I sell in a month, nobody ever stands up and cheers for me, so the rewards are a little different now. At the same time, I’ve never been beaten up (as a car salesman).”
Olson, 41, enjoyed a fulfilling boxing career, although he suspects he might have left a little on the table.
“I had 40 pro fights and won a world and U.S. championship, but I think I always wanted more, even after retiring. It never stops, you get more and you still want more.
“But I can accept the fact that it was what it was. It’s a big transition to go from a sport to doing something else with your life, and I feel that I did that successfully.”
Also inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Friday were Jennifer Krempien (wheelchair basketball), Heather McDermid (rowing), Dr. Willie Littlechild (multisport builder), David Williams (multisport builder), and Doug McKenzie (hockey builder/Pioneer Award).
Contact Greg Meachem at email@example.com