This is the story of the “Saginaw Kid,” lightweight world champion George Henry Lavigne, who held the top spot from 1896 to 1899. Raised in the bawdy lumber towns of Michigan, the “Kid” cut his fistic teeth fighting bare-knuckle matches against the best men of the camps. Just as Lavigne was making his professional debut in 1886, the Queensberry Rules, featuring gloved fists and timed rounds, were transforming boxing as it fought its way to legitimacy and legality.
Lauren Chouinard comes by his love of sports naturally. His mother, Kid Lavigne’s second cousin a few times removed, was a diehard sports fan, and Lauren was raised on Chicago’s south side, just a few blocks from the first home of Cassius Clay, now known as Muhammad Ali. Lauren earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Illinois State University, where he helped found its rugby team. In 1978 he moved to Eugene, Ore., to open Pacific Nautilus, a health and fitness club.
I am not a boxer. I’ve never had any interest in stepping into a ring. I’m too slow and while my only experiences of getting hit were the result of 12 years of playing rugby, I’m fairly certain I never had what it takes to go toe-to-toe in a squared circle. I am, however, a huge fan of the fistic arts. I grew up in the racially-ravaged 1960s inner city of Chicago’s south side, just a few blocks from the home of Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay.