Jim Maloney inducted into the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame
Jim Maloney is still going strong at the age of 77 and is still recognized for his athletic achievements.
While he continues to hit the gym regularly to train martial artists, he added another honor to an illustrious career last week when he was inducted into the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame.
“It’s very prestigious to me because it’s a huge hall of fame,” Maloney said before a session with his students. “This is actually the fifth hall I’ve been inducted into and they’re all exciting.”
Maloney was born in 1945 to the Sipekne’katik First Nation. But when he was 16, he left the reservation and hitchhiked to Boston.
Living in a big city brought many changes, and it was in New England that he discovered martial arts.
“Boston was such a big city for me because I think I’ve only been to Halifax once, when I was maybe 14 or 15,” Maloney said. “I met a man there named Sensei George Mattson, who had studied in Okinawa, Japan.”
Shortly after Maloney began training with Mattson at his martial arts school, he was selected as an aspiring competitor. From 1967 to 1973 he was the undefeated New England champion in free fighting and cement breaking competitions.
“We had no protection on, it was bare ankles and nothing on our feet,” said Maloney, who once trained with martial arts legend Bruce Lee in Boston. “One point was when you were drawing blood, so it was a pretty crazy time to be involved in the sport.”
Maloney spent 10 years in Boston before deciding to return to Nova Scotia where his father was in poor health. Unfortunately, his father died before he made it back. But Maloney decided to bring his martial arts knowledge to Halifax and ran his own martial arts school in the 1970s and 1980s.
“In those early years of ’73, ’74 and ’75 I would have had 400 students with a few hundred more on a waiting list to be accepted,” Maloney said. “We had politicians, lawyers, surgeons and dentists, all professionals.”
Fast forward to 2023, and Maloney is still teaching. Many of his current students have been with him for decades.
“He’s just a kind, generous, heartwarming person,” said Lloyd Fisher, who has coached with Maloney for more than 35 years. “He respects everyone who walks through the door, whether male or female, boxer or any other discipline, he always welcomes them with open arms.”
Travis Parsons, who began training with Maloney in 1998, said he “never met anyone with so much talent.”
When asked how Maloney would have competed in his prime, Parsons said with a laugh, “I heard he was very reckless and deadly.”
Maloney’s wife, Bridget Stevens, is a boxing trainer at Dartmouth’s Tribal Gym. Raised on the Eskasoni Reservation in Cape Breton, she first met Maloney when he began training her. She said the induction into the Hall of Fame was justified.
“He deserves this for my community after the amount of work he’s done for his community,” said Stevens, whose boxing team recently took home multiple medals from an event in Ontario. “He’s just outstanding and goes to the max in everything he does.”
Maloney is now in his 61st year of martial arts training and has no plans to retire.
“I never drank, never smoked, never did drugs,” he said. “I still love it and it’s great to still hit the ground running and I can still throw people around.”
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