'Tough as nails': Fort McMurray boxer Danny 'Stonewalker' Lindstrom remembered

With his trademark jab and lightning foot speed, Danny Lindstrom could knock almost anyone down in the ring.

'He was a world-class guy. There was no quit in him'

Canadian and Commonwealth title holder Willy Featherston, left, beat Danny Lindstrom in this 1987 bout. (Mike Slaughter/Getty Images)

With his trademark jab and lightning foot speed, Danny Lindstrom could knock almost anyone down in the ring.

The Fort McMurray boxer died on March 6 following complications from stroke and dementia. He was 57.

Lindstrom, who fought under the name Danny Stonewalker, earned international acclaim.

"He was tough as nails and he had a huge heart and courage," said Brad Hortie who trained alongside Lindstrom on provincial and national teams.

"He was also a really skilful athlete. He was kind of the whole package.

"Even when he was in the tail end of his career, when he wasn't in his prime, he was a world-class guy. There was no quit in him."

Lindstrom was one of the best boxers in Canadian history.  He was the only man to hold both the Canadian light heavyweight and heavyweight professional titles.

He fought across Canada, the United States and Argentina, earning a professional record of 13 wins, 11 losses and three draws.
A promotional poster for Lindstrom's fight against Michael Moorer shows the Fort McMurray boxer in a traditional headdress. (Chairish)
Born on May 4, 1960, Lindstrom, of Métis heritage, grew up in Fort McMurray.

He began training when he was 10 years old and soon made a name for himself boxing out of the local Clearwater Boxing Club.

Lindstrom was a three-time amateur Canadian champion, a three-time Alberta Golden Gloves champion, three-time provincial champion and was once ranked No. 8 light heavyweight amateur in the world.

His most notable fight was billed as the "Rumble Under the Dome," on Dec. 15, 1990, where he took on World Boxing Organization light heavyweight Michael Moorer at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena.

Lindstrom would lose in a technical knockout 11 seconds into the eighth round.

He was the first Indigenous person — and the first Albertan — to fight for a heavyweight world title.

Lindstrom fought for Canada at the 1983 Pan-American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, and was selected to represent the country at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

He was a good fighter and always came to battle, but he was a humble guy.- Brad Hortie

Hortie met Lindstrom early in his career during the fight for the Northern Alberta Championship in 1969, a match held inside Fort McMurray's Peter Pond Hotel.

They would go on to train and travel together for years.

"We kind of grew up together in boxing," Hortie said. "Fort McMurray, in those days, was kind of a hotbed of boxing."

Lindstrom was respected by his teammates and the boxing community at large, Hortie said.

"He fought some of the best in the world and this is when we didn't have a lot of elite athletes in Alberta, everything was down east and he really shone," Hortie said.

"He was a leader. He led by example because he was a good fighter and always came to battle, but he was a humble guy. Just a nice guy, a team player."
An Edmonton photographer took this photo when he met the legendary boxer living on the streets of Edmonton. (Jerry Cordeiro/Humans of Edmonton Experience)
Despite his physical strength, the acclaimed boxer struggled in fighting his demons.

Lindstrom struggled with addiction most of his adult life. After his impressive career in the ring came to an end, he spent years homeless in Edmonton and lost contact with his family.

He could often be spotted on the street, even in the chill of winter, shadow boxing.

Danny fought as hard at the end as he did in life.- Obituary for Danny Lindstrom

On one August afternoon in 2016, photographer Jerry Cordeiro had a chance meeting with Lindstrom.

Cordeiro was working on a series called the Humans of Edmonton Experience when he saw Stonewalker in an alley, and asked to him to pose for the camera.

The portrait of Lindstrom, beaming with his dirty hands in fists, led the boxer to reunite with his daughter, Poppy. She spotted the photo online and decided to reconnect. The pair had not spoken for more than six years.

According to Lindstrom's obituary, Poppy was by his bedside when he died at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.

He is survived by three daughters and eight of his 14 siblings.

"Danny fought as hard at the end as he did in life before peacefully passing at Edmonton General with his daughter, Poppy, by his side," his obituary reads.

"Danny Stonewalker will live forever in the hearts and memories of his friends and family. He will continue to inspire us and will be remembered fondly for the many obstacles he overcame in life."

'Fearless until the end' 

Hortie, who is now pursuing a career as a social worker at Boyle Street Community Services, remembers his final meeting with Lindstrom.

He was at a drop-in centre for Edmonton's homeless, serving food one afternoon last year when he spotted a strangely familiar face in the crowd.

"I was working with the homeless and the addicted and I was serving coffee one day and I heard someone say, 'Hortie,' and I looked up and he was standing in line for a coffee," Hortie recalled.

"I didn't recognize him at first because I hadn't seen him in several years and he was looking pretty worn out.

Recalling the moment made Hortie's voice break. Lindstrom was not well.

I knew at that time that he didn't have a lot miles left on him.- Brad Hortie

"I went over and gave him a hug and we talked for a while and he shuffled off on his way," Hortie said.

"That was about one year ago and I knew at that time that he didn't have a lot miles left on him."

Hortie has no doubt his friend will be remembered as one of the greatest boxers in Canadian history.

"He was fearless until the end."

A funeral service will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at Trinity Funeral Home at 10530-116 St. in Edmonton.

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon

Journalist

Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca