At the height of his status as a world kickboxing champion, the biggest payday Leo Loucks ever saw for a fight was $10,000.
Conor McGregor wouldn’t shout an insult into a microphone for that type of dough these days.
“Mark (Hominick) made more wearing a pair of shorts (into the octagon) with a name on it,” the 60-year-old mixed martial arts pioneer said with a grin. “When I started in karate in the Bruce Lee era, people didn’t know what kickboxing was. It’s a different time. UFC has cultural influence now.”
And at long last, he is getting his due.
Loucks will be inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 7 at Western Fair’s Carousel Room, along with sports administrator Therese Quigley, volleyball pillars Jane and Vaughan Peckham and drag racing legend Scott Wilson.
“This recognition is just overwhelming,” the emotional Loucks, surrounded by a posse of well-known fighters and fellow police officers, said during the official announcement at Budweiser Gardens. “I was completely surprised by it. To be up on the post with some of these amazing athletes from my city, it’s amazing to be accepted.”
Loucks put London fighting on the map. His success, training style and coaching provided the seeds for what eventually became the world-renowned Team Tompkins group.
With the rise of the UFC brand and combat sports, it’s only a matter of time before world-class fighters like Hominick, Sam Stout, Chris Horodecki, Chris Clements, Chad Laprise and Brad Fowler follow the trailblazer into the hall.
“I’m blessed to have been a tiny part in their lives,” he said. “They’re such elite athletes, they’re going to go in on their own (here one day) without Leo Loucks.”
Fowler, originally from Goderich, went for his first yellow belt in the same karate organization where Loucks served on the board.
“I always aspired to do what he did and he helped me the entire way,” said Fowler, a world champion 10 years ago. “He deserves this. The amount of work we all put in, Leo started it all.
“It’s inspiring to follow in his tracks. He did a lot for combative sports.”
Quigley, the former athletic director at McMaster and Western universities, was the Mustangs’ female athlete of the year in 1975. She credited the PUC-sponsored city sports programs for her first chance to participate and compete.
“It was transformational what they did for us,” she recalled. “Somehow, I ended up on a tennis court.
“I think Jack and Nancy Fairs had a little bit to do with that. Jack (already in the London hall) is iconic. I remember bragging about him coaching 30 straight university (squash) championships and the other athletic directors saying, ‘Here goes Therese about Western again.’ But that wasn’t the point. It was that he started that streak when he was 60. For all those who think their best years are behind them, they aren’t.”
Quigley started her teaching career at Saunders high school and believes the Peckhams were instrumental in getting her hired.
“It’s such an honour to be inducted with Jane and Vaughan,” she said. “I remember when the volleyball club (that became Forest City) started and Vaughan came up to me and said we have to go take out a loan to buy a van. We went across the parking lot to Westmount and took out a $5,000 loan and matched it with Wintario (money) and the new club had its van.”
Quigley called her five years at Saunders the most enjoyable of her coaching days.
“There were so many great athletes,” she said, “and it meant everything to them.”
Everything comes full circle. The Sabres just happen to be the reigning OFSAA girls volleyball champs this year.
Wilson, a talented engine and chassis developer, competed across North America and was a regular at drag strips in Windsor, St. Thomas, Grand Bend and Cayuga. The Ford-sponsored racer won more than 120 events, established all kinds of speed records and was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame four years ago.
LEO LOUCKS, mixed martial arts world champ
- Professional Kickboxing Association world lightweight champ (1986-88)
- One of only two Canadians to hold world titles in the sport
- Awarded black belt at age 17 and took part in more than 400 fights
- Retired at age 29 to join the police force and has been an officer for 32 years
THERESE QUIGLEY, sports administrator
- Served as athletic director at McMaster from 1990-2009, then Western from 2009-16
- Former president and chair of Canada Basketball
- Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient (2012)
- Western’s top female athlete (F.W.P. Jones Trophy) in 1975
- International Athletic Director of the Year in 2002-03
JANE AND VAUGHAN PECKHAM, volleyball
- Driving force behind the Forest City volleyball club
- Named 2012 Sports Administrators of the Year by London Sports Council
- Vaughan coached fellow inductees Al Coulter, Paul Duerden and Jeff Glass
- Jane (Allison) was a key volunteer with 2001 Canada Summer Games and other multi-sport events
- Inducted into Ontario Volleyball Association Hall of Fame in 2018
SCOTT WILSON, drag racing champion
- First Canadian to break 200-m.p.h. barrier, driving a slingshot dragster named the Time Machine in Deseronto on May 24, 1965
- Hit 233 m.p.h. on quarter-mile track with elapsed time of 6.89 seconds
- Held speed record at Grand Bend for more than 15 years
- First driver to go over 235 m.p.h. in Windsor
- Inducted into Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997