It was in the autumn of 2001 that twelve brave young Icelandic men and their entourage travelled to America to test their competitive boxing skills. The destination was the city of Duluth, Minnesota. Boxing is a legally competitive sport nearly all over the world so why did they travel to Duluth of all places? The reason is Chuck Horton.
In 1956 the Icelandic Congress passed a law banishing competition in the sport of boxing. This ultimately led to a dead end for boxing clubs and for the next few decades boxing was nearly non existent in the country. It wasn´t until in the late 1990´s that a group of boxing enthusiasts started piling pressure on Icelandic politicians and congressmen to take a second look at this unjust law and undo it. The progress was slow and the first round in congress saw the bill voted down. In true Viking style the boxing enthusiasts did not give up and more work, data collection and education amongst themselves was undertaken to make sure that everyone would be ready for round 2. Gudjon Vilhelm, a member of this group was granted an exception which enabled him attend a course for a coaching degree at the American Boxing Association in Colorado Springs. Also in attendance was one Chuck Horton. Strong friendship formed between the two and as a result the Icelandic boxing enthusiasts gained a very powerful ally.
It can easily be argued that Chuck Horton´s hand in the following proceedings was a game changer for the development of Icelandic boxing. He visited Iceland to see where we were at and followed up by inviting a team of Icelandic boxers to Duluth to get the first rounds of competitive boxing under their belt. The generosity of Chuck and his people in Duluth will not easily be paralleled and when the team of young Icelandic boxers and their entourage landed in Minneapolis, limousines had been arranged to drive the team to Duluth. A dream start to an unforgettable journey where the Icelanders got to test their fighting skills in two shows against supremely talented opponents such as Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters and Andy Kolle. An Icelandic TV crew tagged along for the trip and a 4-episode miniseries were produced where the highlights of the journey along with a strong political message were on display. The Duluth journey gained a lot of press coverage in Iceland and raised the issue of the legalisation of boxing to a new level. It is truly what made the difference and only a year later competitive boxing was finally legalised in Iceland.
Chuck´s doors have stood open to all Icelandic boxers who have been looking to make the next step in their development but have not had the connections or knowhow to get there. Many have taken this opportunity and have trained under Chuck´s guidance at Horton´s Gym where he has unselfishly accommodated, fed and prepped them to fight both on amateur and professional level as members of his team.
When I read that Chuck Horton was running for Mayor of the city of Duluth I felt the urge to write a few lines in his honour. I´d also like to thank the people of the city for their welcoming and generosity when us Icelanders set sails on the journey over there in 2001. In this visit I got my first experience as a boxing judge. Since then I´ve judged over 1600 boxing matches and I just recently stepped down as the President of the Icelandic Boxing Association after 10 years in office. If not for Chuck Horton, none of this would have happened. What Chuck has done for Icelandic boxing will never be forgotten and in this lifetime we cannot thank him often enough.
People of Duluth. You want this man in your corner!
Former president of the Icelandic Boxing Association and Head of Refrees.