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50/50 - The Golden Anniversaries of Willie O'Ree and Yvon Durelle
New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame
Fredericton , New Brunswick


   The year 2008 marked the
50th anniversary of two
significant events in New
Brunswick and Canada’s sports
heritage: on January 18th of
1958, Willie O’Ree made
history when he became the
first black player in the
National Hockey League when
he suited up for the Boston

Bruins; and on December 10th,
1958, Yvon Durelle and Archie
Moore met in the Montreal
Forum in one of boxing's
greatest fights ever, the
World Light-heavyweight
   Born in Fredericton, NB,
the youngest of 13 children,

Willie O’Ree always stood out
on the ice - not just because
of the colour of his skin -
but because he was an
excellent athlete. Like many
Canadian kids, all O’Ree
wanted to be was a hockey
player but, being black,
extra challenges faced him on
the way to achieving his

dream. After completing high
school, Willie headed to
Quebec to play junior hockey
which led to his signing with
the Bruins. Despite his
talents and contributions to
the team, O’Ree was berated
constantly by opposing fans
and players because of his
colour. Overcoming racial

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