Kempo, Rankin and Wilson Selected to Hall of Fame
John Kempo, Howie Rankin and Ken Wilson, three of the founding members of Racquetball Canada, have all been selected for induction into the Racquetball Canada Hall of Fame in the Builder Category. After Rankin moved to Edmonton from Montreal, and Wilson from Regina, they teamed up with Edmonton’s John Kempo to make history.
Each of these three gave to the sport in unique and lasting ways. Although they are being recognized as individual members of the Class of 2021, their legacy and sport story is undeniably intertwined. It is fitting that these three are being recognized together.
When racquetball was at its infancy across Canada, Kempo, Ranking and Wilson stepped forward to provide the sport with a structure and vision that was crucial to its success. As players, organizers, promoters and businessmen, the three were critical in the early and rapid rise of racquetball through their business acumen, dedication and love of the sport.
Kempo, Rankin and Wilson were at the ground level in forming the perfect trifecta in 1971, with the founding of the Canadian Racquetball Association, the Klondike Racquetball Tournament and a business which became Canadian Racquet Sports Equipment.
The dream that John Kempo, Howie Rankin and Ken Wilson had of making racquetball in Canada all that it could be, provided the basis and opportunity for young athletes to become their best.
John Kempo, Howie Rankin and Ken Wilson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously at the Racquetball Canada 2022 National Championships.
John Kempo (Hometown: Edmonton)
John Kempo was the first President of the Canadian Racquetball Association, now known as Racquetball Canada.
As one of the founding members of the organization, Kempo had a true love and passion for the sport. Under his leadership the organization built a sound strategy in order manage growth, build enthusiasm and develop generations of athletes. The structure that Kempo helped imagine and implement was interdependent. Making racquetball more accessible by ensuring equipment and facilities were available worked hand in hand with the development of the sport at the organizational level. Without all three components of the plan, racquetball would not have grown to the level it did.
Click here to read more about John Kempo’s involvement and his contribution to racquetball.
Howie Rankin (Hometown: Montreal)
Howie Rankin was one of the founding members of the Canadian Racquetball Association and also served as the organization’s first Vice-President. His involvement with the sport started in Edmonton, where he saw the immense potential for the growth of the sport.
Rankin combined his efforts with John Kempo and Ken Wilson in building what is now Racquetball Canada, spurring on a period of explosive sport growth. As a businessperson and true enthusiast he helped put racquetball on the map not only through commitment as a volunteer work, but also through his business efforts with Ken Wilson and Canadian Racquetball Sports Equipment. It is estimated that they built over 600 courts in North America over the years and the company is still operating to this day.
Click here to read more about the contribution Howie made through his incredible volunteer efforts.
Ken Wilson (Hometown: Regina)
Ken Wilson, not only served as the first Treasurer of the Canadian Racquetball Association, he was also one of the founding members of what has become Racquetball Canada. Wilson immediately recognized the potential for the sport when he first played in Regina.
After moving to Edmonton and finding others who shared his passion, Wilson soon became totally immersed in the sport. This led to him being on the forefront of the explosive growth of a new sport in Canada and the launch of a highly successful business, Canadian Racquetball Sports Equipment with Howie Rankin. He operated the equipment side of the business with his wife Ruth for decades. Wilson encouraged the development of racquetball in a way that impacted the sport for years.
Click here to read more about the historic contribution Ken Wilson gave as a sport builder.
The Hall of Fame was incepted in 2017. Racquetball Canada annually honours those who have made significant contributions to the development of racquetball in Canada through the Builder category and those who have achieved extraordinary results in the Athlete category. Click here to view the complete Hall of Fame Gallery.
Racquetball Canada is a national sport organization whose mission is to coordinate, govern and encourage the advancement of racquetball from the grassroots to the elite level across Canada. Along with the support of the Government of Canada and many valued partners, Racquetball Canada develops competitive national teams and oversees programs that help grow the sport of racquetball in Canada and around the world.
Jan HansonCommunications, Diversity & Safe SportRacquetball Canadacommunications@racquetballcanada.ca I 306-502-4422