A World of Contributors to BC Sport History


The mission of the BC Sports Hall of Fame is to build outstanding community legacies by honouring the past and inspiring the future. That is done in large part by recognizing those British Columbians who have shaped our province’s sport history, heritage and culture. It is done by telling the stories of the leading all-time British Columbia athletes, coaches, builders, pioneers, teams and media. Yet BC sport history transcends British Columbia and British Columbians. It is more than just the sum of its component parts, no matter how many British Columbian individuals and teams we honour and celebrate over the years.

BC sport history encompasses not just those who have represented our province since it joined confederation in 1871 but those whose indigenous roots predate British Columbia or Canada itself. It includes those born here who have gone on to live in other parts of the country and, for that matter, the world. It spans those born in other parts of Canada or elsewhere around the world who came to BC at some point in their sporting lives. It even includes the contributions of Canadians from other provinces and foreign internationals, even those who have never lived in British Columbia.

In that sense, we are more than a provincial sports hall of fame. We are truly an international sports hall of fame – albeit perhaps not in the same way that the International Tennis Hall of Fame is that on the global stage. What we are, however, is a Sports Hall that recognizes ALL of those who have made their mark on BC sport history.

The BC Sports Hall of Fame includes some of the most important sporting personalities the world has ever seen. Boxing greats such as Muhammad Ali, who visited B.C. to fight the “Great Toronto Hardrock” George Chuvalo, become part of our pantheon of stories. Ali is not an Honoured Member of the BC Sports Hall, but his story is very much a part of BC sport history. That’s thanks to him being part of the greatest fight in Vancouver history; May 1st, 1972 at the Pacific Coliseum, when he failed to knock down Chuvalo in a memorable 12-round slugfest. As is often the case, sporting visitors such as Ali have strong connections to members of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (Chuvalo in this case) and larger than life personalities such as Gene Kiniski, who will be inducted to our BC Sports Hall next month (on June 9th, 2022).

By telling BC sport stories almost every day of the year – through the work done by our curator Jason Beck in the form of On This Day in BC Sport History and its companion weekly radio feature This Week in BC Sport History — our Sports Hall pays tribute to the likes of the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth, who came to Vancouver in 1934. It might have been a fleeting moment 88 years ago when he played an exhibition game at the old Athletic Park, on his way to a historic 17-game tour of Japan. Yet it was a moment and an important one among the list of continental and global stars who have set foot in Vancouver and elsewhere in British Columbia. It doesn’t end with the presence of the Sultan of Swat in photographs taken in Stanley Park, given that other all-time greats such as Lou Gehrig and Lefty Gomez were on the same tour with Ruth.

Also on the “podium” of top international stars who have made their mark on BC sport history is the Brazilian legend Pele, who played here with Santos and later with the New York Cosmos of the old North American Soccer League in the 1970s.

The list goes on, however. Michael Jordan playing in Vancouver against the expansion Grizzlies, as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. David Beckham representing the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2000s.

Those are just to name a few. In recent years, many more all-time great women’s athletes have set foot in British Columbia, including all-time U.S. women’s soccer goal scorer Abby Wambach, who played for the gold medal winning team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Vancouver in 2015, along with Brazilian soccer icon Marta, one of the best to ever play the game. Jackie Joyner Kersee graced the 1995 Harry Jerome Classic. American skier Lindsay Vonn won gold here at Vancouver 2010.

And, of course, there’s the Canadian all-time hockey great Wayne Gretzky. The Brantford, Ont. product visited Vancouver with the Indianapolis Racers, the Edmonton Oilers, LA kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. Who can forget his puck drop at what was then General Motors Place on the special occasion of the Royal visit by Queen Elizabeth on October 7th, 2002 and his role as one of the final torchbearers for the opening ceremonies at Vancouver 2010? He has never been a British Columbian…yet some of you may know how close he came to playing here for the Vancouver Canucks in 1996. Instead, he joined the Rangers for the last years of his playing career.

None of them are Honoured Members of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. Yet all of them are part of the stories that we tell in our ongoing efforts to promote BC sport history, heritage and culture, day-in, day-out.  All of them have inspired us – even indirectly – in a meaningful way thanks to their own connections to British Columbia and British Columbians.

Tom Mayenknecht, Chair

BC Sports Hall of Fame

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and founder and host of The Sport Market sport business radio show, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and Chair of the Paul Carson Sports Broadcast & Media Awards.