Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky Shared His Father With a Nation

Early years: The Gretzky family, who were originally from Grodno, owned land within the vast Russian Empire and supported Tsar Nicholas II (now in Belarus).

Before the Russian Revolution began, Gretzky’s father Anton (“Tony”) Gretzky (Polish: Antoni Grecki, Belarusian: нтон ркi) immigrated to Canada with his family, first setting foot in Chicago on the way.

Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky Shared His Father With a Nation

After World War I, Anton, a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, would wed Mary, an immigrant from the town of Pidhaitsi in what was then eastern Poland but became western Ukraine after World War II as a result of changes in the borders.

Depending on who you ask, Gretzky’s ancestry is either Polish, Ukrainian, or Belarusian.

In interviews, Gretzky claimed that his parents were “White Russians from Belarus” and that his father would always respond, “Nyet. Belarus,” when people inquired as to their ethnicity. On other occasions, he alluded to the Polish heritage of his family. However, Gretzky claimed in his autobiography that he spoke Ukrainian as his first language[3], which logically would have been influenced by his mother and is consistent with the fact that his father was of Polish or Belarusian ancestry.

Wayne Gretzky Experience in Sports

When he was in high school, Gretzky was active. He established running, pole vault, and long jump school records in the sport of track and field. He preferred hockey, and during his teen years, while playing for the Junior B-level Woodstock Warriors for five seasons, he was a prolific goal scorer. Some people believed he was destined to succeed in the National Hockey League (NHL), where he set his sights.

Gretzky received a discount from a local auto dealer so he could travel more conveniently to hockey games in and around Woodstock, but his relatively small stature and weight—5 feet 9 inches and 140 pounds—made it difficult for him to advance in the sport. A few weeks after contracting chicken pox and losing a lot of weight, he tried out for a top Junior A team. He participated in the tryout game scoring as many goals as any of the other hopefuls, but he was deemed too small for the higher league. He came back and joined the Woodstock team.

Wayne Gretzky Career

Before retiring in 1991, Walter worked for Bell Canada for 34 years as an installer and repairman. In 1961, a work-related accident left him in a coma and rendered his right ear deaf.

In 1991, five days after turning 53, he suffered a nearly fatal brain aneurysm that affected his short-term memory. In 1995, Ian Kohler, his physical therapist, wed his daughter Kim. The CBC film Waking Up Wally: The Walter Gretzky Story is based on his ordeal. [18]

In addition to coaching at his summer youth hockey camp in California, he assisted charities and fundraisers.