TORONTO – Six Nations’ great Gaylord Powless is among the nine new inductees into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame for 2017, announced on Wednesday, April 19 in Toronto.
Gaylord, nicknamed the Marvelous Mohawk, was an extraordinary lacrosse player, proud of his heritage and family name. To soar to the lofty heights of stardom he enjoyed he had to overcome many obstacles: hurtful racist taunts, a trick-knee, and a damaged back. Through it all, he beat back the personal barriers to excel in the game of his forefathers.
Born December 1, 1946, on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, near Brantford, Ont., Gaylord was waving a lacrosse stick almost from the moment he could walk. Soon, his opponents discovered how to throw the budding star off his game — abuse him physically and verbally, knowing he would retaliate and take a stupid penalty and often rejection from the game. He overcame this to become one of the greatest athletes and stars the sport has known.
A legendary lacrosse coach soon came calling and was able to get the 17-year-old Gaylord to join his Oshawa Green Gaels, winners of the 1963 Minto Cup. In the subsequent four years, Gaylord won two scoring titles, was twice awarded the Ken Ross Trophy for ability and sportsmanship, accumulated 710 points in 110 junior games and was named the Tom Longboat Trophy winners Canada’s outstanding Indian athlete in 1964 and 1967.
During his years with the Oshawa Green Gaels the team captured the Minto Cup all four years, with Gaylord twice being named the series’ Most Valuable Player. That team is an honoured Inductee of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Gaylord graduated to senior lacrosse level in 1968 and, like his father before him, led a somewhat nomadic lacrosse life, playing at the Intermediate and Senior ‘A’ and ‘B’ levels between 1945 and 1966, lined up with teams in Peterborough, Hamilton, and St. Catharines, Brantford, Ohsweken, and North Vancouver. Gaylord also travelled about — Detroit, Montreal, Brantford, Syracuse, Brampton, Six Nations and Coquitlam — before his damaged back forced him into retirement in 1977.
For Gaylord, it was a nine-season, 303-game Senior career that produced 492 goals and 741 assists for 1,233 points and one Mann Cup ring.
Jim Bishop, Canadian Lacrosse Inductee in the Coach Category, felt “He had the fastest reaction time of any athlete I ever coached, of anybody I’ve ever seen,” Bishop said in a 1989 interview:
“He was an outstanding athlete. I shouldn’t compare him with Wayne Gretzky, but there’s a natural tie-in. He knew where everybody was on the floor at all time. He was an unselfish player and a great playmaker. The biggest compliment I can pay him is that, under the pressure of national championships, he was always at [his] best. He was an unbeatable person where we were in difficult straights. He had an inner toughness — the capability of being a street fighter in lacrosse. He was able to take a lot of punishment. In hockey, you’d say he was tough in the corners.”
Not only has Gaylord Powless made a significant contribution to sport in Canada and specifically in the sport of lacrosse, to the communities of Oshawa, Brantford, Six Nations, Montreal where he played on local teams as an amateur or professional athlete but also to the many communities across Ontario, Canada and internationally where he inspired crowds of fans and as a Mohawk member of the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, Ohsweken.
The Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame said in a nomination support letter that they “agree with the sentiments expressed by the nominators that Gaylord in an excellent candidate for induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. His selection would provide important role modelling for young athletes, for Canadians who love the sport of lacrosse, one of Canada’s national sports, and bring pride to the growing aboriginal community in Canada.”