This is a tough one to write and report on. That is, a mere few days after celebrating his 62nd birthday, legendary Sault Ste. Marie and world class boxer Steve Nolan passed away suddenly from an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Nolan was living in Windsor with his second wife, Stephanie Allinotte-Nolan, at the time of his recent, untimely passing.
Known for loving all members of his family, Nolan had three children with his first wife, Dory Lacasse, and two more with Stephanie. He also had 12 grand children.
Nolan rose to fame as a member of the Sault Boxing Club. He and other family members were coached by Steve’s father, Frank Nolan Sr. The late Frank Nolan Sr. was also an accomplished amateur boxer.
As for Steve, he won a silver medal at the Canadian Junior Olympics in 1973 at the age of 13. A year later, in 1974, Steve bettered his 1973 showing in Edmonton, where he won the gold medal in the 100 pound class at the Canadian Junior Olympics.
In 1976, at age 16, Steve won the gold medal at the Ontario Winter Games boxing competition in the 119 pound category in an event that was held down Highway 17 in Sudbury.
Nolan would continue his glittering win streak in 1976 with a gold medal match victory over Saskatoon’s Randy Smith in the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association Intermediate Championship. Smith was the defending champion and two years older than Nolan.
Nolan would then travel to Bermuda to participate in a special invitational tournament involving members of the 1974 Junior Olympic team. In June of 1976, he won a unanimous three round decision over Steve Hilliard in Montreal to claim the North American bantamweight boxing championship.
Fittingly, that same year, Nolan was awarded the H.P. Broughton Trophy, which recognizes the Sports Person of the Year in Sault Ste. Marie.
Steve would continue his remarkable success by winning gold medals at the Canadian Senior Championships successively from 1977 to 1983. And his dream of representing Canada at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow was finally realized when he was selected for the team.
However, Nolan’s dreams would be dashed when Canada chose to boycott the Moscow Olympics.
Nolan kept on fighting, though.
He went on to take part in the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia in 1982. A year later, in 1983, Nolan participated in the Pan Am Games, which were held in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1984 and 1985, Nolan placed second at the Canadian Senior Championships.
From a large and loving family, Nolan was all about respect and pride for his relatives, his first cousin Carol Hermiston told Sault Business Matters.
“Steve was a loyal son, brother, friend and father. He was always there for family and he respected his mom and dad with a powerful vengeance. He was supported by his parents and family during his career in boxing. He adored his children and his grandchildren. His life was about loyalty to his friends and other team members on the boxing team,” Hermiston relayed.
He was also friendly and fun loving, said his cousin.
“Steve was a man who had an infectious laugh that could bring the house down … and did so many times,” Hermiston fondly recalled. “Steve was my cousin, his father and my mother were brother and sister. We grew up together and we were taught the same values by our grandmother Fanny Nolan.”
With Batchewana First Nation roots, Nolan was fiercely proud of his ancestry, said Hermiston.
“He was extremely proud of his Native heritage and he always said that he wanted to be a mentor to other young people. His relationship with all of his children was very, very strong and he also remained in touch with his family here in the Sault. The last time we spoke, we spoke about his love for his family,” Hermiston said.
“Steve was a man who walked his walk and in fact was talking about moving back to this area when he retired so that he could be close to his family here and to the place that he loved so much, Batchewana. He will definitely be missed by all that had the pleasure of knowing him,” summed up Hermiston.