Known as the Godfather of the CFL
Born in Potenza, Italy, in 1950, Wally moved to Canada in 1953 with his family, later playing minor football in Montreal. He attended Idaho State University and was a linebacker for the Bengals. Wally returned to Canada and played 10 seasons with the Montreal Alouettes as a linebacker and punter, appearing in 152 games and winning two Grey Cups.
Shortly after his retirement, Wally tried his hand at coaching, landing an assistant position with Montreal in 1983. Four years later, Wally joined the Calgary Stampeders and worked under Larry Kuharich until 1990 when Stamps president Norman Kwong hired him as head coach. And the rest is history.
Known as the Godfather of the CFL, Wally Buono dedicated 47 years to football. After 25 seasons as head coach, 26 as a general manager, and 10 more before all that as a player, Wally Buono coached his final game on November 3rd, 2018. Buono has led his teams to five Grey Cup championships and 13 regular season division titles. In 2009, Buono surpassed Don Matthews’ 232 victories to become the all-time leader in CFL coaching wins and finished his amazing career with a regular season record of 282 wins including a franchise record 113 wins with the Lions. He continues to remain the winningest coach in CFL history and he’ll be quick to remind you that he’s the losingest coach also.
His consistency and success were previously recognized with the CFL’s Coach of the Year Award in 2011, 2006, 1993 and 1992.
In recognition of his numerous accomplishments as a coach and general manager as well as his dedication to Canadian football, Wally was awarded the Order of Canada, the Hugh Campbell Leadership award, JCC Award, and the Bob Ackles Award. Furthermore, Buono was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, BC Football Hall of Fame, BC Sports Hall of Fame, BC Lions Wall of Fame, and Idaho State Football Hall of Fame.
In addition to his accomplishments as a coach and administrator, Wally is a noted contributor to the community and was recognized for his work with the Paul Harris Award in 2001. Wally continues to donate a significant amount of time as a spokesperson for Imigration Canada and as an ambassador for BC Women’s Health Foundation and the ALS Society of BC’s WALK for ALS in support of former teammate Tony Proudfood.