Dawson City’s Art Fry Boxing Club seems to produce athletes worth immortalizing.
Dawson’s John Flynn became the third boxer from the club to be inducted into the Sport Yukon Hall of Fame, during the Sport Yukon Awards Night at the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel on Thursday.
Flynn is joined in the hall by inductees Joe Mason, Flynn’s cousin, and Chester Kelly.
Born in Dawson in 1955, Flynn began his sports career boxing at the Art Fry club before moving on to other sports.
“I was in the same weight-class as my cousin Joe Mason and it made me a little crazy,” said Flynn. “He was a lot better than I was.”
After leaving the canvas, Flynn switched to hockey and snowshoe biathlon, two sports he’d have a lot more success in.
Flynn played on the Yukon’s silver-medal-winning hockey team in the 1974 Arctic Winter Games in Anchorage, Alaska.
His silver ulu in hockey pales in comparison to what he accomplished at the Games in snowshoe biathlon.
Flynn went on to win 13 medals, including nine gold, at the Arctic Winter Games in the sport.
“I played hockey quite a bit and I got quite interested in snowshoe biathlon,” said Flynn. “I liked the challenge of it and the shooting aspect of it. I shot a lot as a kid growing up in Dawson.
“It made it a lot easier to train here outside of Whitehorse. Ski biathlon interested me, but there’s no track in town and there’s no place where you can use cross-country skis for ski biathlon because you have to do a skating (technique), so snowshoe was the next best thing.”
Flynn kept active in both sports as a coach, helping a peewee boys team from Dawson win gold at a Yukon Hockey Championships.
In 1997 Flynn was instrumental in the recreation of the 1905 Dawson City Nuggets game against the Ottawa Hockey Club (a.k.a the Silver Seven) for the Stanley Cup.
Flynn broke his nose playing hockey and was flying to Whitehorse to receive treatment when he ran into his friend Pat Hogan. Flynn made an off-collar remark that they could re-enact the famous game.
“I put a bug in Pat’s ear, saying ‘We could do this,’” said Flynn. “The rest is history.”
With the event all set to go, Flynn and the rest of the Nuggets decided to re-enact more than the game, taking a similar route to Ottawa as the 1905 team.
Over a span of 22 days, the Nuggets mushed dogs and (unlike the 1905 Nuggets) snowmobiled to Whitehorse. Instead of taking the White Pass railway, like the 1905 team, they bused to Skagway. They then ferried to Bellingham, Washington, bused to Vancouver and took the train to Ottawa.
“It was a pretty amazing trip,” said Flynn. “And Troy Suzuki was with us and there’s a DVD out on the whole trip now.”
Flynn was the captain of the Nuggets in both 1997 and last year when, as part of Hockey Day in Canada in Whitehorse, the Nuggets and Ottawa Senators alumni staged two games in the Yukon – one in Whitehorse and one in Dawson.
Ottawa kept the 106-year win-streak over the Nuggets going, but Flynn scored a goal against the Senators in Dawson.
“The game in Whitehorse was a mixture with Whitehorse players who wanted to be involved,” said Flynn. “When we brought them to Dawson, it was just straight Dawson players.
“What was kind of neat was the other day I got an email from the Ottawa alumni team to congratulate me in the induction into the Hall of Fame.”
Flynn continues to play hockey in Dawson’s old-timer league. He’d still compete at the Arctic Winter Games if he could, he said.
“I see a lot of young people out there, and being involved in sports – don’t give it up,” said Flynn, during his acceptance speech on Thursday. “No matter what people tell you, go out and enjoy yourself. I watched the video on the Arctic Winter Games at the beginning there and I miss it. I’m sad they don’t have a senior division anymore.”
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