The former WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Donny “Golden Boy” Lalonde didn’t start his amateur boxing career until he was 17 posting a modest 11-4 record. He decided to turn professional at 20 in 1990 winning 13 of his first 14 fights. The one he lost was reversed in his next fight. He fought out of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, in his first 10 fights and his last 6 fights.
In July of 1983 in Lalonde’s 14th fight he went from an 8 round fighter to a scheduled 12 winning the Canadian title stopping then champion Roddy MacDonald, 24-2, in the 10th round, in Ontario, Toronto. Two fights and five months later MacDonald moved up to cruiserweight and lost in a world title fight.
In June of 1984 Lalonde stopped Carlos “The Force” Tite, 23-1, in only his second fight in the US. In May of 1985 Lalonde challenged for the NABF title losing to world rated Willie “Sandman” Edwards, 19-2-1, in the 9th round. Edwards won the title from former world champion Matthew Saad Muhammad.Lalonde would go onto win his next nine fights before defeating contender Mustafa “Rocky Estafire” Hamsho, 42-3-2, over 12 lopsided rounds for the vacant WBC Continental Americas title, at the Felt Forum in New York, in May of 1987. Six months later he won another title. This one for the world title stopping Eddie “Wildcat” Davis, for the vacant WBC World Light Heavyweight title, in Port-of-Spain. In the co-feature was the island’s former WBA World champion Leslie Stewart winning his bout setting up a Lalonde and Stewart match six months later.
Lalonde stopped Stewart in Port-of-Spain in his first title defense. In November of 1988 he agreed to come in at a super middleweight 167 facing “Sugar” Ray Leonard, 34-1, who previously defeated “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler. Both Lalonde’s light heavy title and the vacant WBC Super Middleweight title were at stake. He had Leonard down in the 4th round. After 8 rounds the scores were 2-1 for Leonard who would win in the 9th round in Las Vegas.
Lalonde was off nearly two years when he came back as a cruiserweight to score four stoppages before losing over 12 rounds for Bobby “Chappy” Czyz’s, 39-5, WBA title in Las Vegas. After four and a half years Lalonde came back going 3-0-1, in that 4th fight drew with Kevin “Troy Tiger” Pompey, 32-14-2, in just a 6 rounder.
Lalonde took off again for some four and a half years winning three straight before ending his career losing to former world champion Virgil “Quick Silver” Hill, 48-4, over ten rounds in July of 2003. All four bouts were in Manitoba at age 43. The “Golden Boy” had an outstanding record of 41-5-1 with 33 wins by stoppage.
Through Lalonde’s friend/Rep Claudio Reilsono this writer was able to interview the former world champion.
KEN HISSNER: You didn’t have many amateur fights before turning professional. Was money the main reason or ambitions to someday be a world champion?
In Canada at the time where I lived in Winnipeg there were not a lot of fight opportunities at amateur. That is the main reason I didn’t have many. My goal was to be a World Champion like Mathew Saad Muhammed or Ali so that was always my interest. Amateur or the Olympics never was a goal of mine.
KEN HISSNER: You were just 13-1 when you won your first title, the Canadian title stopping Roddy MacDonald, 24-2, having never fought over 8 rounds. This was quite a jump up in class. Was this fight a real confidence builder for you?
I always had confidence. Maybe too much sometimes, maybe more than my skill level warranted…lol but yes this fight got me into #10 in the world so it was a huge confidence builder.
KEN HISSNER: It was almost a year before you scored a major win over Carlos Tite, 23-1, by stoppage in his home state of Indiana. At that time did you feel you were ready to fight one of the world contenders?
I felt I could fight anyone way early in my career. Prematurely in retrospect but I was ready or so I thought.
Bob Arum promoted this fight on ESPN and after it I was ranked #1 by the IBF in the newly created Super Middle weight class. I was close to fighting Chong Pal Park and Murray Sutherland but the Edwards fight and with a win a shot at Spinks came first so I went with the Edwards fight.
KEN HISSNER: A year later in your first major fight against a contender for his NABF title which would put you in the world ratings you lost to Willie Edwards, 19-2-1 in Canada. You would have your next eight fights in the US. What brought this about?
It was time to have more gym time/experience and an actual manager. I signed with Dave Wolf in NYC and he wanted me to live and train there which is what made this change possible and necessary.
KEN HISSNER: You would get into the world ratings defeating Mustafa Hamsho, 42-3-2, in New York, earning a vacant world title fight. You dominated the scoring for the WBC Continental Americas vacant title. Was this a title eliminator?
Yes, the winner got a shot at the recently opening created by Spinks moving up to Heavyweight for the WBC vacated title.
KEN HISSNER: You got a vacant title fight with Eddie Davis, 34-5-1, and stopped him in just two rounds. Did you expect a tougher fight?
I had no idea what to expect. He had taken many great fighters, including Spinks the distance and gave a hell of a fight to many other great light heavies so I expected a tough fight. No one in the media almost gave me any chance, which makes one think twice, even about his own strengths and confidence. When I hit someone clean no matter whom it was they were hurt or ko’d so I wasn’t surprised when I landed the punch, more that it was so early and the degree he was hurt. I feared he would not come back to consciousness….
KEN HISSNER: You didn’t take on an easy opponent in your first defense against former world champion Leslie Stewart, 26-2, stopping him in five rounds in his country of Port-of-Spain. Did you have any reservations returning to Port-of-Spain fighting Stewart?
The promoters for the Davis fight made us sign a return contract against Stewart so we knew we were going back. I was happy to beat a former champion so highly regarded as it helped me feel like a very bona fide champion verses winning a vacant belt.
KEN HISSNER: Was money the reason to then fight “Sugar” Ray Leonard, the middleweight champ at a “catch weight” of 167, with both your title and the vacant super middleweight title?
It was one reason for sure. I was world champion and he was a legend. I got into the game to fight the best and he was very highly regarded so my main interest was fighting great fighters and he fit the bill. As I mentioned earlier I was close to fighting for the IBF Super Middle championship so the weight was a non-issue. Over training for the Leonard fight cost me strength more than the weight class. I came in at 163, 167 officially with my clothes on, so that was wayyy too low but 169 or 170 cut to 168 for the weigh-in and I would have been much stronger, more powerful and more resilient. My bad, no one else….
KEN HISSNER: You had Leonard down in the 4th round. Did you think you would stop him after that?
I was 1000% certain I would knock him out. All I thought was I need to hit him clean one time….
KEN HISSNER: After taking off for almost two years per Box Rec saying “I could no longer justify hurting people for my own game”. Was that when you got into the real estate business? What changed your mind to come back?
I got into real estate because I had made a ton of money for my world and I wanted a way to help along friends and family. My brother built houses, my mother was a bookkeeper, and my other brother did landscaping. I had friends that were in trades I wanted to create opportunity for, my father was a realtor and wanted to be a broker so I put him through school, bought a building for an office, did a bunch of development so we had signs up everywhere. I speak of it and the Panama Papers story in a book I am writing called The Costa Rica papers.
As it turns out bringing people up with one does not work out because they have no idea what it takes to get to a higher level of economics in life. This is why they are where they are. When things go sideways they look for an excuse or a way to bring you down to their level in life which is what happened to me. That was all slander, defamation and unethical actions on their part. They needed someone to “blame” for the world economic crisis and how it affected our projects/lives. It is a long story, fit for a book, but in the end it was an attempt to extort land from me. To a large degree it worked because the whole mess made my wife sick and I gave up a LOT of real estate to have calm in our life for my wife’s sake. Not because anything they were saying had any truth to it. In fact it was 100% lies and I have the documents to prove what I say. They have nothing but lies told around the world…
The media went along with it because it fit their story of “bad people” use offshore banking etc. It was convenient for everyone except me. I am a fighter. You may knock me down but you will never keep me down. I will get the full story out there. It is important so that others who experience what I did in youth, then do well in life, learn from my mistakes.
In short, two terms say it best, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and no good deed goes unpunished…two very important lessons for kids who dream big to hear and take in. As hard as it is to be disciplined enough to exercise when they are on top. “My friend [s], my family, would NEVER do those things to me”….well, I thought the same thing as have many kids who started with nothing and made millions…
I came back because compared to the real world a boxing ring was peaceful and enjoyable….I missed the calm and enjoyment of a boxing ring.
KEN HISSNER: Then you come back stopping all your four opponents earning another title fight for the WBA title held by Bobby Czyz. Was that one of your toughest fights?
Yes, it was tough because Bobby nailed me with a shot that affected me so much in the first round. I didn’t even know my name or that I was boxing until the 5th round. All of a sudden I saw him, I thought to myself, hey, that’s Bobby Czyz, I am fighting Bobby Czyz as I heard the crowd, I was 100% out on my feet for 4 rounds. Tough way to start a fight….Basically, I fought on instinct the whole fight and he fought a very disciplined fight. Credit to him. He fought me better than I fought him.
KEN HISSNER: You went 6-0-1 after that ending your career losing against former world champion Virgil “Quick Silver” Hill, 48-4, by decision at age 43 and Hill was 39. Did you know immediately your career was over at that point?
I knew a week before the fight when I got cut badly in sparring and in that same moment damaged my eye for life. I only went ahead with the fight because I knew my career was over, felt I had a punchers chance and wanted to end my career against an all-time great instead of in sparring…
KEN HISSNER: You had an interesting career ending with a really good record. I want to thank you for taking the time for this interview:
Thank you so very much. I appreciate your time and the space you will share the story in.