MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau will be among a group of championship athletes inducted into the YM-YWHA Alex Dworkin Montreal Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on April 30.
Other inductees include:
• the 1936 “Y” Canadian senior water polo championship team;
• barefoot water skiing champion Beth Leboff;
• Albert Schneider, Canada’s first Olympic boxing gold medalist, 1920 welterweight champion;
• 1992 Canadian PGA ladies champion Terrie Brecher-Weisse;
• basketball star Robert Habert.
Beliveau is being inducted into the Hall of Fame’s Yakeir Category – which honours “persons of value, people, regardless of race or religion, who make a difference” – in recognition of his long association with the Maccabi organization that fields the team that represents Canada at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Beliveau was chef de mission for the team at the 1985 and 1997 games. In addition he took the athletes oath at the Jewish Community Centre’s Maccabi Youth Games hosted by the Montreal JCC in 2003. He will be inducted by bodybuilding legend Ben Weider, who himself was inducted into the “Y” Hall of Fame in 2006.
“Le Gros Bill,” as Beliveau was affectionately known, played in 1,287 NHL games, including 162 playoff contests, scoring 586 goals and 809 assists. He tallied 25 or more goals in a season 12 times, racked up 80 game-winning goals and 21 hat-tricks.
Beliveau, who has been named to the Order of Canada, served as captain of Les Canadiens for 10 seasons, was named to the NHL all-star team 10 times, appeared in the playoffs for a record-setting 16 consecutive years and helped lead the Canadiens to 10 Stanley Cup victories.
The water polo team won seven straight Canadian senior championships between 1932 and 1939, but the world-ranked 1936 squad was selected for induction because it was picked to represent Canada at the Olympics in Berlin that year. The team did not go to Berlin because the games were being held under the Nazi banner.
Team members were Lionel Caplan, Abe Feinholz, Max Goldstein, Henry Pesner, Abe Ofshitzer, M. Rabinovitch, Ben Silverman, Abe Sohmer, Abe Tafler and Larry Tucker. Morris Brucker was the team’s coach, Oscar Holzberg, the manager, and M. Weinstein, the chairman. All members of the team have passed away and they will be inducted posthumously.
Schneider was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Montreal with his family when he was nine. He took up boxing in high school and became a club welterweight champion. He never lost a bout during his amateur career and became the Canadian welterweight championship while still a U.S. citizen.
Schneider was picked to represent Canada in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp and fought Alexander Ireland of Great Britain in the welterweight gold medal match. The fight ended in a draw after three rounds. The referee called for a fourth round, and Schneider pummelled his opponent to win the first gold for Canada in boxing. Schneider, who is a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, turned pro after the Olympics, fighting more than 75 bouts in a seven-year career. He died in 1986.
Leboff, who now lives in Davie, Fla., had an outstanding national and international career in barefoot water skiing between 1988 and 1993. She finished first in the jump category at the 1992 World Championships in England and was Canadian national overall champion that same year. At the Canadian championships in 1991, she was first in the slalom and finished second overall.
Leboff was the Quebec Water Ski Federation’s athlete of the year in 1991 and 1992, and was inducted into the Water Ski Hall of Fame in 2004.
Montreal-born golfer Terrie Brecher-Weisse, who now lives in Fort Myers, Fla., won the Canadian PGA ladies championship in 1992 and the Florida Women’s Open in 1990. She also won individual and team gold medals at the 1985 Maccabiah Games in Israel. She also won many other tour events in the United States and Canada.
Habert, who was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and now lives in Toronto, was on numerous national, Quebec, city and university championship teams with the “Y,” University Settlement and Sir George Williams University from 1961 ro 1969. He was also a member of the Canadian squad at the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 1961 and 1969.
His 1961 University Settlement team won the Canadian junior championships, while the Sir George Williams team three conference championships between 1961 and 1965. He was named athlete of the year by both organizations.
The induction ceremony will be preceded by a gala reception, with proceeds designated for the YM-YWHA youth development program and to support the team sports program. Both programs provide scholarships for needy youth.
The Montreal Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to Montreal athletes and teams who have recorded outstanding accomplishments, as well as builders and benefactors whose contribution to sports is acknowledged in Canada and internationally.