In 1977, Gary thought he was being interviewed for a documentary on greyhounds by TV personality Ray Warren….until out of the shadows jumped Roger Climpson with his famous line, “Gary Wilson, this is your life!”
To feature on one of Australia’s most iconic TV shows means you have a story to tell, and in Gary’s case, what a story it was, and still is. It’s the story of a boy who overcame the most terrible of circumstances to become one of the most loved greyhound owners ever.
When Gary was three months old, he swallowed a dummy that became lodged in his throat, and upon having surgery to remove it, it became lodged even further down, causing him to be in a coma for three months.
Almost blind and unable to walk without assistance, his parents introduced him to greyhound racing, and a love affair between Gary and greyhounds was born.
He purchased his first two dogs for $100 and could always be found at the track, in the commentary box or just playing with his beloved dogs. His most famous dog was Woolley Wilson, one of the best ever and made him enough money to live well in the 70s.
Gary’s story – An inspirational life
“I’d go to the races with Geoff (trainer) and Woolley Wilson every week and to make life easier for me, Geoff took out one of the compartments in the trailer, and I used to lay in the back of the trailer and Woolley Wilson and Benny McGrath (other dog) used to be my companions in the back,” he explained.
In time, Gary was considered a ‘walking encyclopedia’ on greyhounds and was known as ‘Gary the tipster’ with his tips being shared across the media. After ‘This is your life’ he became a regular guest on the John Singleton Show.
Despite barely being able to see, he tipped from his other heightened senses – hearing and scent. He’d rely on the race callers’ descriptions of the races and listen carefully to other friends who would talk about the dogs.
Today Gary still loves greyhound racing and his current dog Shima Rock. If you are in Perth, you’ll probably find him at the track on race day.