Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Famer, Canadian Legend John Forzani Passes Away
The sporting goods industry and sports world lost a true champion Friday with the death of John Forzani.
Forzani, a Calgary native who was a 2010 inductee into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame, died in a Palm Springs, Calif., hospital after he was placed on life support from a heart attack, according to The Calgary Herald. Forzani was 67.
Forzani won Canadian Football League Grey Cup championships with the Calgary Stampeders as a player in 1971 and as a part owner in 2008. He got his start in the sporting goods business 40 years ago when he opened Forzani’s Locker Room and he was also a leader and philanthropist in the Calgary community.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of John Forzani,” said Matt Carlson, President & CEO of the National Sporting Goods Association. “John became such an integral part of our industry after his professional football career. He worked hard to succeed as a businessman and community servant.”
Forzani, his brothers Tom and Joe and friend Basil Bark were teammates with the Stampeders and together they opened Forzani’s first store. In 2011, the Forzani Group Limited operated more than 500 stores under its corporate and franchise banners, including Sport Chek, when it was acquired by Canadian Tire for $771 million.
Forzani, who was a member of Calgary’s Business Hall of Fame, was part of a consortium that bought the Stampeders in 2005 and helped lead them to a Grey Cup championship three years later. Team president Gordon Norrie told The Calgary Herald the Stampeders are the organization they are today because of the efforts of Forzani and his partners.
“John was a great, successful, kind, fun and loving person,” said Randy Hooper, who was the President of Sports Distributors of Canada for 37 years and was inducted into the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame in 2013. “He was a credit to our industry, his city, province and country. I served on the CSGA (Canadian Sporting Goods Association) Board with John and learned a lot from him. He shared many business philosophies with me.
“He must be commended for his good corporate citizenship. My thoughts and prayers are with John and his family and friends.”
Forzani stepped down as CEO of the Forzani Group in 2003 and as executive chairman in 2006. His charitable works include the Sport Chek Mother’s Day Run & Walk in Calgary, which he started in the mid-1970s, attracts 15,000 participants each year and has raised more than $10 million to benefit health-related causes.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life,” Forzani told The Calgary Herald in an interview when he was inducted into the Calgary Business Hall of Fame. “You take a lot of risks. You work for yourself and you get to enjoy your own rewards and then you have this community commitment as all part of your background.”
Forzani is survived by his wife Linda and children Mike and Jodi. NSGA wishes to extend sincere condolences to the Forzani family.