Mark Leduc, the Canadian boxer who won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, died of heat stroke Wednesday after being found unconscious on Sunday at a Toronto hotel sauna. He was 42. The year after the Olympics, Leduc retired from boxing — and came out. Remembers his friend Edward Zawadzki:
I clearly remember that late night phone call I received from him just prior to his public announcement of his homosexuality. He had a nice eastside Toronto gym on the go with a youth boxing program that he was so proud of, a boxing career that he wanted to continue for a little while still and a solid personal life that brought him the happiness that he longed for. He asked me what I thought about his upcoming press conference and my take on his situation. I remember telling him that he certainly didn’t need my advice for he already knew what he had to do for himself. I also remember telling him that he was the one who had to look into the mirror at himself, but if it helped that he was loved and respected by all his friends and colleagues and we would support him in any decision. I can’t remember when I was more proud of any one of my friends when Mark opened that part of his life to everyone with such grace and dignity.
It is now the day after receiving the shocking news of this young man’s death. I read an article from a national Toronto-based newspaper, in which the reporter made a statement about Mark coming from the homophobic world of boxing and I have a need to clarify something with her about that statement. There was nobody on the Canadian boxing team who was better liked and respected than Mark Leduc. His teammates supported him always without failure as he did them time and time again. There was not a more loyal friend to his friends! Was Mark Leduc a gay athlete? Absolutely. As important as that was to so many people, I will always remember Mark as one of the most special humans beings that I ever had the privilege of knowing.
(Photo: Terry Fong)