Ex-footballer Normie Kwong Alberta's new lieutenant-governor

Normie Kwong, a football legend who became the 1st Chinese-Canadian in the CFL, is appointed Alberta's new lieutenant-governor.

Normie Kwong, a legendary football fullback nicknamed the "China Clipper" after he became the first Chinese-Canadian in the CFL, has been named Alberta's new lieutenant-governor.

The retired businessman – who won four Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders – will be sworn in Thursday.

"Norman Kwong is an inspiration for many Canadians," Prime Minister Paul Martin said in a release announcing that Kwong will replace Lois Hole, who recently died of abdominal cancer.

"His many contributions, as a professional athlete, as a business person and as a prominent figure in society, speak to his commitment to the people of Alberta. He will serve his province and his country well."

Kwong may have been the only Asian in North American professional sports when he joined the Canadian Football League in 1948 at age 18.

Kwong, who is five feet seven inches tall and then weighed 170 pounds, racked up more than 30 CFL records before he retired from the sport in 1960. He was named "All-Canadian Fullback" five times.

He said he was surprised when Martin called him to offer the job, but plans to focus on making Alberta a better place for his grandchildren and the rest of the young generation.

"I have five grandchildren. I want to see them grow up in a safe environment and have a chance to get a good education and proceed in their life," Kwong said.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said Kwong is a good choice to replace Hole, who died Jan. 6.

"He's been an outstanding Canadian, an outstanding Albertan, has contributed so much to this province," Klein said. "I think he'll do an excellent job."

Kwong won his first Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders, then joined the Edmonton Eskimos and helped them win three championships in a row.

After leaving the league, he had a successful career in real estate and was part-owner of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames when they won a Stanley Cup in 1989.

Kwong also ran the Stampeders for a while. Some credited him with turning around the franchise, including by hiring coach Wally Buono.

He was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1969, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. In 1998, he was named a member of the Order of Canada.

Kwong, who lives in Calgary, said he's not sure whether he'll have to move to Edmonton, especially since the province has torn down the lieutenant-governor's official residence.

"I don't know what they plan to do, except maybe set me up a tent on Jasper Avenue or something."