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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

GRAYDON 'BLONDIE' ROBINSON

Inducted in 1971

Member Details

Date of Birth: January 3, 1928
Place of Birth: Kirkland Lake, Ontario
Date of Passing: October 19, 1999
Sport: Bowling
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1969

Canadian 10-pin championship

AMF Bowling World Cup

1978

Canadian 10-pin championship

Honoured Member GRAYDON 'BLONDIE' ROBINSON
Inspire

Story

Graydon Robinson, better known as 'Blondie', was one of Canada's most successful 10-pin bowlers in the 1960s and 1970s. His level of excellence even in his forties and fifties was remarkable, but Robinson was equally impressive for his come-from-behind victories and late-frame heroics. He bowled his first game as a youngster in a four-lane alley in Port Colborne, Ontario, where he was working as a pin setter. He settled in Toronto and, by the time he was 18, was already an accomplished five-pin bowler. In 1946, he finished third in the Canadian Bowling Association singles tournament and, along with Sarnia's Ken Drury, came in second in doubles at the 1952 event. In the 1949-50 season, he led the Intercounty five-pin league 1949-50 with a 245 average. In 1962, Robinson turned to 10-pin bowling and quickly joined the fraternity of Canada's best bowlers. He bowled a sanctioned perfect 300 game, won numerous city and provincial championships, and along with fellow Canada's Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Ray Mitchell, was part of a five-man team that established a Canadian three-game, five-person record with a total score of 3,385. But it was in 1969 that Robinson announced himself on the national and international stage. He didn't make it easily, however. Robinson was the eighth and final qualifier in the Toronto qualifying round of the national playdowns and he won his six-game regional round by a single pin. At the Canadian finals in Montreal, the eight regional champions met to determine Canada's representative at the AMF World Cup in Tokyo. After the first round, Robinson was in fourth place, the last of the four qualifiers for the next round. He won his quarter-final by eight pins after throwing strikes in his last two frames, captured the semi-finals over former national champion Paul Yosimasu of Winnipeg after trailing by 54 pins following three frames, and beat Vancouver's Bert Manarin by three pins in the final. In Tokyo, the field of 35 competitors at the AMF World Cup bowled a qualifying round of 36 games, after which Robinson found himself in second-place behind Ut Lenevat, a 27-year-old from Thailand. Robinson earned a trip to the final by edging Panama's Jose Damian by six pins. In the two-game final, the Canadian champion faced Lenevat. The Bangkok bowler won the first game 215-166 and with three frames left in the second game he had a seemingly insurmountable 46-pin lead. But Robinson had one more comeback left in him, bowling four consecutive strikes over the final three frames. He won the second game 213-158 and captured the 1969 AMF Bowling World Cup by only six pins with a 379-373 aggregate. Robinson was the first Canadian to win the world 10-pin championship and the championship's oldest winner at 41. Robinson returned to the 1970 World Cup as defending champion. He made it through the qualifying round in 15th-place as the 44-man field was whittled down to 20. However, as the top-20 bowled 19 games to determine the subsequent round of eight, Robinson could not move higher than 15th-place and his world championship was over. He returned to his job as a sheet-metal worker in Toronto and refused the suggestion that he should turn pro, citing his age and the difficulty he would have earning a living. He continued to bowl, however, and in 1978 again captured the Canadian 10-pin singles championship, earning another trip to the AMF World Cup, this time in Bogota, Columbia, at age 50. He was the only former champion in the field and finished the qualifying round of 43 bowlers in 21st place, missing a spot in the second round of 16 by 79 pins. Robinson capped his competitive career in the 1980 season by averaging a career-best score of 212.


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