During his outstanding and unparalleled career as a mixed martial athlete, Georges St-Pierre was often in a class of his own.
On Thursday, he was officially inducted into a Hall of Fame class and received the Order of Sport, Canada’s highest honor.
Nine athletes and two builders were rightfully recognized, including UFC fighter, wheelchair basketball player Danielle Peers, Indigenous softball player Phyllis Bomberry and the Ferbey curling team – Randy Ferbey, David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque.
Additionally, the 2023 class also featured Olympic figure skating champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, considered one of the greatest ice dancing duos in the history of the sport, having won Olympic gold in Vancouver 2010 and Pyeongchang 2018 during their careers.
Indigenous lacrosse advocate Oren Lyons and high-performance judo coach Hiroshi Nakamura were each recognized as founders.
The inductees gathered in Gatineau, Que., respective trailblazers and leaders who were also known for their contributions to the community.
In typical GSP fashion, he didn’t give a prepared speech, preferring instead to express his freelance thanks to the many people who led, encouraged and inspired his great run.
The newest Order of Sport class was selected from more than 200 public nominations and by a committee consisting of sports broadcasters, writers, academics and athletes.
The focus was on a recipient’s ability to lead and inspire both on and off the field, for their sporting achievements and in recognition of their continued role in building Canada through sport and the value they give back to their communities.
“Fantastic,” GSP enthused in a telephone interview when asked how his day unfolded. “I am extremely honored and grateful to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. I am happy to be here.”
The moment was not lost for GSP as he fully embraced the magnitude of achieving such status, without a doubt the highest level one can achieve.
His exploits are well documented, but at a moment like this, when careers are being reconsidered, when sporting achievements are being retold, it brings even more joy and appreciation.
“Anyway, it’s another one,” GSP continued, noting the newest feather in his large sports cap. “I’m just very happy and feel very privileged to be here.”
Like any elite athlete, no matter the field, GSP wasted no time thinking about such a prestigious honor when he found himself in combat.
“When I was competing, I didn’t have time to think,” he added. “I was too stressed, in the middle of preparation and felt very busy.
“But now it’s fun to look back and look at it from a different perspective. I feel very lucky.”
Happy was the operative word for GSP Thursday, as it should be.
He was also thoughtful and grateful, but at the same time felt blessed and appreciative.
GSP is the first UFC athlete to receive an award and he is also the first mixed martial artist to receive the Order of Sport.
As UFC welterweight and middleweight champion, the man known for his three-letter name became a household name whose athletic achievements helped create a new generation.
“When you compete, you never think that far ahead,” GSP said. “But now that I’m in this position I can look back on things. I just feel very honored, very happy.
“Without everyone this wouldn’t have been possible. I had such a strong team behind me. This is an opportunity for me to thank all the people who stood behind me.”
The awarding of the Order of Sport was also an opportunity for GSP to meet and chat with his classmates from the class of 2023.
“It’s a lot of fun because you get to be with people from other disciplines,” he continued.
GSP had a particularly pleasant conversation with “Sensei” Nakamura, an icon of Canadian judo.
Nakamura was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2019.
One of Nakamura’s students was Nicolas Gill.
The goal for GSP in accepting the Order of Sport was simple.
“Look as good as you can,” he joked.
As for writing a speech, the words GSP wanted to express in his acceptance speech all came from the heart.
“I go freestyle. I’ve always been better when I speak from my heart.”
During his time in combat, GSP was busy.
“I’m even busier now,” he admitted.
Projects to stimulate brain function have kept the GSP busy.
He has just completed work on a film set as an actor for a Netlix production scheduled to air late next year.
GSP is also in the nutritional supplements business and also owns a home fitness company.
He even has a vodka line that was recently unveiled and plans to bring it to the United States and even Thailand.
There is also an online betting company that employs GSP, not to mention the instructional videos he released earlier this week.
“I’m very busy,” GSP said in a slight understatement. “I’m not twiddling my thumbs.”
You might think there aren’t enough hours in the day to accommodate and survive such a schedule, but GSP wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That’s what I like best,” he said. “That said, I like being busy. Staying busy keeps your brain stimulated and keeps you young.”