Everything great begins with a dream! My dream at 15 after I moved from home was to be a world champion martial
artist. However, when my left heel was amputated a year and a half later my dreams disappeared as the doctors explained how I would never run again and I’d always walk with a limp. That can’t happen! I needed to compete with the best and prove myself! I could not accept my predicament; so with patience and resilience along with extremely focused detachment I set out to prove the doctors wrong!
To date I have two world titles and many continental and national championships in four different sports. I have held first to third degree black belts in four different styles as well as instructing law and security agencies in four countries. My activities include chess, ocean kayaking, scuba diving, coaching, and martial arts, and I am currently working on my private pilot's license.
I am a nationally certified coach and I am qualified to operate any wheeled vehicle on the highway. My credentials include being a certified facilitator, college instructor, iron worker, logger, entrepreneur, single parent, and a friend to count on. My education includes a Master of Science in Communication, Bachelor of Leadership & Public Safety, Provincial Instructor Diploma, Adult Education Diploma, and many other credentials as well as life experiences galore!
No one can tell me I can’t or won’t be able to achieve whatever goal I have, no one! There will be set-backs, but the dream of being the best only ends when you stop trying to achieve the dream! One must have honour when it comes to achieving goals; honour is about truth and promises always kept!
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us
are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - He is right!
Gordy Racette Sport Bio
I was born in Prince Albert Sask. and grew up in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. I am excellent at learning kinetically
mimicking the better athletes and I excelled in track, baseball and hockey. As a teenager I played on a men’s ringette hockey league and there was a lot of hormones in the arena, it was very rough. The ambulance used to park at the area and wait. I loved it!
One of my teammates on the ring hockey team was a football scout and because of my tenacity on the floor arranged a try-out with the BC Lions football team when I was almost 17. That would have fit perfectly in my plans to get to Vancouver and begin martial arts training, a passion I had since I was 15 along with another dream to travel the world as a bodyguard.
However, 3 months before the try-out I had a horrific accident while out with some friends of mine from the ring hockey team. With my arms around a couple of teammates saying goodbye to another who was parked facing the hotel, our friend stepped on the gas to leave. Instead of going backwards like he intended, the car raced towards us three and I pushed my friends aside and jumped, only as far as the bumper which caught my foot against the brick wall behind.
I had my heel pinched off, and I was bleeding profusely! A few hours later my heel was sewn back on at the hospital and I was told all would be well. However, recovery was slow and in 5-6 weeks gangrene set in. I spent a month in the hospital getting my heel amputated however the split skin graft to cover the missing area didn’t take. A month later I had a series of operations to close the wound with meat from above my right knee. It was radical surgery at that time and I spent six weeks in my isolation room, my left heel sewn above my right knee. Three months total in an isolation room and the prognosis; I would never run again and I’d always walk with a limp. My dreams, my future, seemed so far away!
While in the hospital watching the 72 Olympics, I decided to go back to school and teach sports, the next best thing to playing sports I thought! The problem, I only had a grade nine education. However, with a little research, I found out that I could attend college under a mature student program. The criteria, you had to have been out of high school for two years or more and one could go back as a mature student. I met the rest of the simple criteria and I started at a new college called Malaspina in Nanaimo on crutches, with a grade nine education because I left home at 15. Everyone I told about going to college, thought I'd never make it, ha.
The obsession I had to become a martial artist began to take shape. With only a couple of martial arts schools on Vancouver Island at the time, I made the decision to transfer to UBC in Vancouver and off to the big city I went to become a Phys Ed teacher and to finally train formally in martial arts where it was flourishing. I arrived at UBC limping but still supporting myself and my dream to be a martial artist. I needed a cane to get about but that was alright, I’m in Vancouver and I am going to get into martial arts, everything was “groovy”! I still had to travel the world as a bodyguard and martial arts was what I needed to make myself a weapon for self defense. I was very happy!
After two years of taking the prerequisite courses at UBC in Phys Ed, practicing Tae Kwon Do at the campus dojo and the basement of my dorm building for three to five hours a day, I eventually retrained myself to walk normally and was even starting to jog a little bit. Was it easy? For close to three years working my way through college to university, I had big problems with my heel. It was difficult to train properly because, I had no heel! Balance, heel toe running or walking was impossible many; many times I had to stop training until I healed after I would see blood trails on the floor which came from my heel. It would never be just a small little cut; it was usually a wear spot the size of a dime or more and I’d have to stop training for 7 to 10 days. To keep that from happening, experimenting with “mole” skin, different styles of footwear to wearing orthopedic inserts in my shoes to thick store bought inserts with the left heel cut out. I tried every option one could think of to keep training! One thing was for sure; my heel was always protected, always!
Over time I retrained myself to run and shortly after, left university and went to my home town of Port Alberni to refocus on my future, after three years of being off my track. I should never have left university however, I was now in Port Alberni logging and a friend of mine from the ring hockey days asked me if I’d like to play lacrosse. What was that? He showed me some basics with a club that had leather netting at one end and told me to practise throwing and catching the ball. I got involved with Senior C lacrosse half way into the season. I was fully running and I loved lacrosse, you wore protective equipment, go for goals, and you got to hit your opponents all sorts of ways with a big stick. I had a blast!
A CUPE strike changed my life! A Senior A game (semi pro) instead of being played in Nanaimo because of the strike, was going to be played in Port Alberni where I was living, the Nanaimo Timbermen against the Vancouver Burrards! There was a pro lacrosse league in Eastern Canada and the professionals during their off season would play Senior A in the West to keep in shape. I heard most of the players were professional and when I saw that particular game, I was mesmerized! The speed of the ball, skill, agility and the endurance needed to play, perfect! I made it my goal that night to play at their level. I was going to be a professional lacrosse player!
I saw and seized an opportunity to make a team, for the next season Nanaimo were looking to recruit “tough” guys. That was me! But first, I had to learn how to pass, catch and shoot as well as the pro and semi pro lacrosse players with 20 years lacrosse experience on me. I moved to Nanaimo in early October and I practiced lacrosse from then to Spring every day in the rain, snow or high winds for on average for 3 hours and I ran 3-5 for miles every day for 6 months. I even started-
something called weight training. Come spring I made the team! I was now playing with the same players that played in Port Alberni the season before. That year I won best rookie! My goal was to play professionally with these same mesmerizing
players back East where it flourished however, unbelievable! What unfortunate luck, the pro league folded that season! Now
I continued playing lacrosse as my home was in Nanaimo however, my brother Brent was playing Div. 1 rugby with James Bay in Victoria the year before and he told me I would love playing this game of Rugby. Never played the game before but it would be great to play with my brother as we were always competing with each other. So, I joined the James Bay rugby team in Victoria and played rugby during the off season of lacrosse. I will always be a Bay, but those three seasons I played with them were the absolutely best! They thought just like me!
That first season I began in Div. 3 learning the game, before the season ended, I was playing Div. 1 with six teammates who played on the National team with one voted as one the best rugby players in the world. That year I won best rookie! In 1978, I competed in lacrosse at the Edmonton Commonwealth game and I was a member with the James Bay rugby team when we won the North American Championships in Monterey California.
We are now in the late 70’s and both my rugby and lacrosse buddies “forced” me into entering a competition called
“So you think you’re tough”. It was for non pro fighters who thought they were tough fighting 2 - 3 fights a night to win a “big” purse if they were actually tough enough to finish undefeated.
What could I bring to something like this? I had earned a black belt a couple of years earlier in Tae Kwon Do as well as being one of the more aggressive players in both rugby and lacrosse. I was prodded yes but I saw it as a challenge! Oh yes, I also worked as a bouncer enforcing the rules of the bar or club for five years before this and evicted a hundred or more unruly patrons who challenged me, only once! However, before I lost in front of my friends I thought I’d sample fighting in a ring to see what it was going to be like. I went to different cities and I won 6 of the So You Think Your Tough challenges! It was suggested by the promoters that I turn pro because no one would show up to challenge me and I was ruining their show.
In one of the earlier fights I had in the So You Think Your Tough competitions, I fought an enforcer/collector by the name Roger Daggitt. He did a seated shoulder press with 370lbs! He was punching and head-butting the lockers in the change room down to the floor, toppling them over anyone who happened to be in the way. Everyone in the competition steered very clear of him! He was maniacal! I knew the finals would be him and I and he was a very scary man! So, we fight in the finals and the first round he never touched me but his face was getting lumpy. A little worried he asked his corner man how to beat me. His corner man told him to head-butt me. The second round began and he came out like a juggernaut and I later had to get 7 stitches in my left brow. I refused to give in! I could hardly see at all but a blur but I told the ref I could see out of my eye perfectly. I suppose that fight put me on the map so to speak as no one believed I could ever win and the one who worked his corner and told me this story, eventually became my manager. There was a recession and I decided to become a professional boxer and left Nanaimo and moved to Vancouver.
Within three years I was rated 13th in the world and shooting his first Rambo movie “First Blood” in Hope BC, Sly Stallone took an interest in this “white” fighter he heard about who had no fear. It was a wonderful time for me living in L.A. however, within a year I started legal proceedings for breach of contract and 3 years later settled out of court.
During the time of the legal battle I was approached by a man named Don Arnott who I knew in the close martial art world I lived in. I remembered him as being very good with weapons. In any case, Don was training and promoting fighters and he convinced me to give professional Kickboxing a go as he already produced two world champions. OK, I fought the best kickboxers on the North American continent and within a year; I won the Canadian, North American and a World Super Heavyweight Kickboxing Title. Finally, I was a world champion!
A side note, as I mentioned, my feet actually was never bare and from when I started training in martial arts to all competitions pro or amateur, I had to get special permission from the governors of whatever martial art body to be able to compete with my wrestling shoes on. Wrestling shoes were light, flexible and had a sole which protected my heel. However, my competition wrestling shoes had to have special foam glued to the sole as to not to cut in any way and the outside of my feet also had a foam covering. The asking for permission always came with letters supported by my doctors explaining my handicap.
My heel! Only a hand full of people knew I had an “artificial” heel however, the years of participating in martial arts competitions, running for lacrosse, boxing and rugby, took its toll. I have had 8 knee operations so far, why? Having no heel will affect how you run or walk. I had to acclimatize myself to functioning without a heel and I practised every waking moment. My adaptation put a lot of pressure on the medial side of my left knee which eventually wore down to the bone. Over the years besides my knee, I’ve had operations on my neck, back, cheek, foot, ankle, elbow and hand and I am in pain, every day. But it’s funny, the only time I am pain free is when I compete!
Five years after winning a World Kickboxing title, still keeping in shape, I was recruited to play Senior A for the Coquitlam Adanacs and I had a blast. It was my duty and pleasure to bring the fans back to the game as I played lacrosse as it was meant to be played. It was also the camaraderie, the pressure, the sweat, the fans, the lights, the sound, the fatigue and the excitement - I enjoy a challenge!
A year or so after lacrosse I attempted to become a fireman and I was thinking of getting in by a back door. The Vancouver Fire Department had a Tug of War team and they were very serious competitors. Knowing some of the veterans, they asked me if I’d like to be part of the team. It was extremely hard, for you had to put in 100% effort for as long required. That means pulling on a thick rope for up to 10 minutes or more thinking your life depends on it. Usually the competition would last less than 5 minutes but it is not as easy as it sounds. There was much practise pulling in unison. However, I love a challenge and I competed with them for a couple of years, the last year we won the North American Tug of War Championships. Did I become a fireman? I had a knee operation just prior to the physical testing for the fire department, limped to the finish line and I wasn’t accepted.
Shortly after this period I was introduced to an orthopedic surgeon (Dr. Paul Wright) who was instrumental with keeping me mobile. Also at this time I was involved with Generation II knee braces and was very willing to experiment with their braces and give them practical feedback for the braces’ development to help myself, and other people with the same particular problem I had. Paul did a couple of surgeries on my knee later. My Dr. Paul and the Gen II Brace Company I credit for helping me continue to compete for as long as I have.
To digress, I was now working with the government in youth corrections as I had to be connected with the government to get the particular kind of training I needed to work in personal security. I spent three years teaching at the police academy and teaching security professionals with another martial art expert friend of mine who specialized in arrest and control procedures, I earned another black belt. During this time, I taught and did personal protection services for various business clients travelling the world for roughly 5 years.
I was married had two children and I now had three black belts. Still loving competition, in 1998 I competed in Dragon Boat racing with my James Bay Rugby team and my friend and teammate Tom asked if I’d like to play lacrosse again. I was thrilled at the opportunity to play with the Victoria Shamrocks after 22 years starting in Senior A. My teammates were the renowned Gait brothers and others that could have been my offspring and it was very hard to keep up. Getting older really sucks! That year I won most inspirational player! However, because of my 6th knee operation at the time I missed out on being with my team the year they won the Mann Cup (the Canadian Championship).
Also in 98, my friend Ozzy and I went to watch a martial art tournament one of hundreds I have been to however this
tournament was featuring a friend of ours Rick, who was a world record holder in breaking techniques. We went there to support him but in any case, not knowing a thing about the tournament itself, turns out it was a World Sport Ju Jitsu tournament held every two years. Before I found out the significance of the tournament, I was thinking to myself “I could beat these guys”! Ozzy is the “only” person in the world that was personally with me the exact moment I decided on a goal. I told him I would beat these blokes and win the gold at the next tournament which was to be held in Leeds England in December two years away! I said it, to my friend, it must happen!
I never studied Ju Jitsu so, I was off to learn from my friend Tim who is a 7th degree in that style and I worked hard and I was ready for this World competition both mentally and physically. To pick up the pace of training I had a pro boxing fight in Victoria Feb. 2000 for a couple of reasons. The purse was for charity and to let people know what I was attempting to do in England. I suppose a third reason; it also helped me get into “combat mode” which basically means a purer form of mental training – like going to war!
After my boxing fight I switched gears to re-focus my attention on making the Canadian National Sport Ju Jitsu team which I had to win before I could move on as Canada’s representative at the world championship in England later that year. The Canadian trials began June 3, 2000 at Douglas College in New Westminster. However, “shades of the So You Think Your Tough” series when competitors found out I had entered, they decided to stay home. Wise decision I thought!
However, I forgot who, but another wanted the Canadian title and he complained and demanded a match with me for he
thought I didn’t deserve to win unopposed. No problem, I suppose his heart grew bigger after the competition so a specially arranged private match was to be held at the National Ju Jitsu team’s main dojo with the appropriate people who make the final decision. This would be a serious match - someone was trying to upset my plans! My maniacal opponent, the one who demanded a match with me through the hierarchy of channels, who said I didn’t deserve my new title, decided to stay home after all, another wise decision! I finally won the right to represent Canada by default!
This is a dynamic and very exciting sport and the exposure at the World Competition at Leeds England was said to be big. Winning a world martial art event in England will get me and anyone connected with me exposure and I could use that exposure to help promote myself and the companies that sponsor me. I was also looking forward to another world title. That was the plan!
I have the most essential of all ingredients; desire, supreme desire with peerless tenacity, I never quit however, even that wasn’t good enough to win against an unbeaten USA fighter and I lost my attempt at the gold medal. I missed the gold by two points and settled for silver. “Whispering now”, my knee was so bad, I had to wear a brace under my gi during competition just to stand straight if caught, I would have to take off the brace or pull out of the competition. No one knew, opponent, teammates, no one, I pulled it off and was the last to lose.
I remember before the competition started in Leeds I was out walking with my cane and I could hear the whispers from the others competitors. “Ha, who is this dude walking around on a cane?” After the competition, everyone knew me and wanted to be my friend. However, on the jet on my way to England, my left elbow got stuck. I couldn’t straighten it! Instead of roaming the area as a tourist, I stayed in my hotel room with an ice pack. When I got back to Canada, turns out I had a bone chip stuck in my elbow which needed surgery to remove.
However, the pain in my knee was excruciating and I walked with a cane for a total of 13 years before I was finally able to convince my doctor that if I received an artificial knee, I would not compete again. I felt bad for awhile about my little lie however I had mobility without pain and again I pursued the elusive gold at the World Sport Ju Jitsu competition held this time at Mar De Plata, Argentina in 2006. It was extremely competitive with the best fighters in the world there and I had to use all my experience to stay in the race. The final match was I against the Chilean Jiu Jitsu director who had a 5th degree in Brazilian Ju Jitsu and a 5th degree in Kenpo karate. Most unfortunate for him, he was not a match for me and I was very happy winning another world title!
The year 2000 was when I became a single parent. I have been a single parent for a dozen years and within that time, I
earned numerous diplomas and many certificates, a Bachelor and a Masters degree, trained for two world championship events, had a steady job, went through a divorce with my ex that lasted 3 years and was very busy raising and chauffeuring my kids.
However, I need another challenge! In 2000 when I had my pro boxing fight, I thought ha, four different decades, I wonder if I can make it to another decade which would be 2010. I started training for that milestone in 2009, but my feet were going numb and it moved up to my thighs, "yikes"! After consultations with the specialists as to why it was happening, it turned out I had lumbar stenosis and I needed back surgery. I have fully recovered and I have begun the hard wheels of motion to fight in the Spring of 2013. There are even some that do not think I can be ready or should even attempt this! Ha!
I will be the third Professional Boxer in history to have fought in five different decades along with Saul Mamby and Roberto Duran.
If there is anything I have learnt while competing, it is that you can never quit - never! Quitting is the easiest thing one could ever do. That’s why when you set your goal you never quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don't quit until you reach that one. You never quit – NEVER!
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