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The Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame Announces Inaugural Class of 2010
Gibbons, Flanagans, LeDoux, among those to be honored in October
July 5th, 2010

 

The newly formed Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame, a non-profit organization founded in late 2009, has announced their official Class of 2010. "We're very proud to announce our inaugural Class of inductees," stated boxing historian, Jake Wegner, who serves as the group's President; "This Hall of Fame is long-overdue and a lot of hard work has been put into its formation by our Executive Board, and now it's time to announce what the voters have decided," stated Wegner.

Among those included in the Class of 2010 will be a man known throughout boxing history as one of the "uncrowned champions" of the sport. A man so good, that all the champions of his day avoided him like the plague, never offering him a title shot until he was well past his best days in the game-Mike Gibbons "The St. Paul Phantom" (Saint Paul). Gibbons was known as a defensive genius, only with a punch. His right cross was the one to watch for. Mike is a member of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and World Boxing Hall of Fame. He holds victories over such men as: Jimmy Clabby, Al McCoy, Gus Christie, Eddie McGoorty, Leo Houck, Soldier Bartfield, Ted (Kid) Lewis, Jack Dillon, Harry Greb, George Chip, Battling Ortega, and Mike O'Dowd. Mike was trained and managed by George Barton and Eddie Reddy.

Also in the Class of 2010 is Mike's younger brother, Tommy Gibbons (Saint Paul). Known for giving the legendary Jack Dempsey one of the toughest fights of his career in Shelby, Montana, Tommy is considered one of the best Light-Heavyweights and Heavyweights of all-time. Like his brother Mike, Tommy is also a member of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and World Boxing Hall of Fame. Tommy's biggest victories were over: Billy Miske, Buck Crouse, Billy Murray, Gus Christie, George Chip, Battling Levinsky, Harry Greb, Willie Meehan, Georges Carpentier, and Kid Norfolk. Tommy was trained and managed by Eddie Reddy and Eddie Kane.

Joining the Gibbons brothers this year, are another set of legendary fighters who fame was so great, they came to be known in the 1940's and 50's as "The Fighting Flanagans". Glen Flanagan (Saint Paul), considered by many to be one of the best Featherweights and Lightweights of all times, was once ranked #3 in the entire world, and faced 26 top-10 ranked fighters, and 3 world champions throughout his 14-year career; his biggest wins being those over: Mel Hammond, Jackie Graves, Charley Riley, Lauro Salas, Chico Rosa, Pat Iacobucci, Jackie Blair, Harry LaSane, Gene Smith, Diego Sosa, Danny Davis, and Bobby Bickle. He also had big fights against: Duilio Loi, Corky Gonzales, Tommy Campbell, and Jimmy Carter, Ray Famechon, Tommy Collins, and Miguel Acevedo. He possessed a rapier left jab and a stunning left hook. Glen held the Minnesota Featherweight, Lightweight, and Welterweight titles during his career. Glen was trained by: Leo Ryan, Lou Gross, and Gene Connolly and was managed by Earl Kaehn, Andy Skaff, and then by himself throughout much of his career, before finally being handled by Pinkie George. He is accompanied by his younger brother Del Flanagan (Saint Paul), who is known as one of the best defensive fighters of all times, and was once ranked as high as #2 in the world at Welterweight. Del's two best punches were his right cross and right uppercut. He was known for his fast hands and quick footwork and his biggest win was over world Featherweight Champion, Sandy Saddler in December of 1950 in a televised non-title fight, in which Saddler was glad he had not put his title on the line. Saddler later backed out of a title fight with Del. No one wondered why. Some of Del's biggest victories were over: Pat Iacobucci, Del Cockayne, Walter Kolby, Freddie Russo, Johnny DeFazio, Sandy Saddler, Jackie Graves, Beau Jack, Art King, Lester Felton, Willie Pastrano, Johnny Saxton, Al Andrews, Jimmy Martinez, Kid Gavilan, Ralph "Tiger" Jones, Virgil Akins, and Ralph Dupas. Both Flanagan brothers are members of the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Del was trained by: Earl Kaehn, Bill Kaehn, Leo Ryan, Johnny DeOtis, Bill Gore, and Gene Connolly. He was managed throughout his career by: Earl Kaehn, Lou Viscusi, Bernie Glickman, and then later by John Velotta, and John Rauchnot.

Scott LeDoux. Crosby-Ironton/Minneapolis. A long-time fan favorite slugger who fought from 1974-1983 and faced 8 world champions, including George Foreman, Leon Spinks, Ken Norton; Mike Weaver, Larry Holmes, Greg Page, Gerrie Coetzee, and Frank Bruno. He was a long-time Heavyweight contender who fought fellow in-state rival, Duane Bobick, twice; their first battle still holding the state record for attendance at 13,789. Scott's fight with the immortal, Larry Holmes in 1980, still holds the state record for a live gate of $253,000.00. Other memorable bouts include wins over "Big" Jim Beattie, Marty Monroe, and Rodney Bobick, and a close loss to power-punching, Ron Lyle, which many experts thought he had won. LeDoux was trained and managed by Joe Daszkiewicz.

Rafael Rodriguez. Minneapolis. Known as, "The Rifle" throughout his 13-year career, was once ranked as the 9th best Jr. Middleweight in the world, and the #1 Jr. Middleweight in the country, ahead of such greats as: Harold Weston, Sugar Ray Seales, and "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler. An expert counter-puncher with a dangerous right hand and ridiculous speed, Rodriguez was a force to be reckoned with in the 1970's. Still residing in his hometown of North Minneapolis, he gave the great Hedgemon Lewis two life or death scares in Minneapolis in 1975, and beat fellow big-name boxers in: Mike Morgan, Keith Averette, Pat O'Connor, and even former world champion, Denny Moyer. He also faced such greats as: Gary Holmgren, Clyde Gray, Bruce Curry, and Billy Backus, and is regarded by historians as the greatest Hispanic boxer in Minnesota history. Rodriguez also had a high-profile fight with the great Sugar Ray Leonard back in 1978. Rodriguez was trained by: Joe Daszkiewicz and Kenny Rodriguez and managed by Ron Peterson.

Will Grigsby. Saint Paul. Known universally as one of the greatest Jr. Flyweights of all-times, "Steel Will" Grigsby fought from 1988-2007 and was a two-time World Champion. In just his second pro fight, he faced future world champion and Hall of Famer, Michael Carbajal, dropping a razor thin decision and earning the respect of boxing analysts from coast to coast. He went on to post impressive wins over Jesus Lopez, Javier Cintron, Ratanapol Sor Vorapin, and Carmelo Caseres. Grigsby later dropped a decision to the undefeated Hall of Fame legend, Ricardo Lopez, but came back to post big wins over world champion, Nelson Dieppa, and then Rueben Poma, before whipping Victor Burgos by a landslide and winning the Jr. Flyweight title yet again. Boxing historians regard "Steel Will" as the best pound-for-pound boxer to emerge from Minnesota since the 1970's. Grigsby was trained by Dennis Presley and Willie Carter.

"The Black Pearl" Harris Martin. Minneapolis. Martin, who was at one time, was the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, hailed from Minneapolis and ruled the Welterweight and Middleweight divisions. Known for his stamina, durability, and as being the best body puncher of his era, Harris Martin was a fighter no one wanted to fight. Nor far removed from the days of slavery, Martin was never allowed to fight for the Championship of the World, but some historians believe he would have attained those honors had he been afforded the opportunity. Though fighting most often at just 151 pounds, Martin became too good for his own good, and often had to fight Heavyweights just to get fights, beating most despite the disparity in weight. Standing just 5' 6" tall, but with a chest like a rum barrel and a waist like a Lightweight, the Pearl was noted to have taken on all comers, rarely losing. He twice beat one the best Middleweights in the world of the 1880's in Dick Moore, as well as posted impressive victories over: Professor Charles Hadley, "Black Frank" (Frank Taylor), Charles Gleason, Joe Ellingsworth, Paddy Gorman, and the "The Black Diamond" (Harry Woodson). In a bloody fight to the finish against Black Frank in May of 1887, he knocked out Frank to win the Colored Middleweight Championship of the World in a fight that lasted 2 hours and 32 seconds. He also faced world champion, Bob Fitzsimmons in a 4-round exhibition, as well as the great Bobby Dobbs, and Young Peter Jackson. He was reported to have had more than 100 wins and just 10 losses by the newspapers of the day, though modern historians have only been able to locate 50 of those victories through old papers. The Black Pearl was trained by Professor Charles Hadley and George Phillips, and was managed by Billy Hawley and George Phillips.

Don Riley. St. Paul. (Journalists/Historians/Photographers). Born in 1923, this legendary sportswriter from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, actually made his mark across the bridge in the city of Saint Paul. From 1943 to 1988, Riley captivated millions of readers with his daily sports columns and feature stories that were chocked full of witty one-liners and behind the scenes inside scoops; scoops that only Riley could elicit from the training camps of boxers. Whenever it seemed that two fighters were avoiding each other from a match that all Minnesota boxing fans wanted to see, Riley used the power of the pen to question their hearts, and goad them into giving fans the fights they wanted to see the most. Many of the best local rivalries that we now recall with pleasure, happened to some degree from a steady amount of public pressure from Mr. Riley. He could be a manager's best friend in terms of publicity, or worst nightmare in terms of public chastisement, but for fans of fisticuffs, he was always the agent that worked tirelessly to set the stage for mega fights. It usually worked. In addition to covering boxing for the Pioneer Press for 45 years, Don also called fights from the broadcast booth for various popular radio stations such as WTCN and WMIN. He is universally recognized as the best fight writer from the Pioneer Press of the 20th Century.

Bill Kaehn. Minneapolis. (Managers/Trainers). A former Golden Glove slugger in the late 1930's and early 40's, and the son of the late, great, trainer/manager, Earl Kaehn; Bill followed in his father's footsteps and became one of the more influential boxing figures in Minnesota from the 1950's through the present. He got his starting as a trainer while assisting his father with the training duties of the great Del Flanagan, before re-emerging a few decades later and operating as the head of the University of Minnesota's boxing program and gym. He later trained and managed the careers of many local professional boxers including: Gary "The Hammer" Holmgren, Anthony "Untouchable" Stephens, "Dangerous" Danny Schommer, and more recently, Anthony "The Bullet" Bonsante. All of these fighters either held or challenged for either state titles or world titles, and in some cases, both. On an amateur note, Kaehn also holds the distinction of having coached the most Upper Midwest amateur champions in state history with various boxers producing a grand total of 37 titles, including the 1987 National Golden Gloves champion, Dave Sherbrooke, and he also coached Sherman Griffin to a victory over Evander Holyfield while both were amateurs. Kaehn retired at age 87 from training and management with the recent retirement of Anthony Bonsante.

Dr. Sheldon Segal. Hopkins. (Administrators/Doctors). When Ching Johnson first asked Dr. Segal to oversee the fights on behalf of the commission for the 1972 National Golden Gloves tournament in Minneapolis, he did much more than get a doctor for a tournament; he set in-motion the making of one of the top boxing physicians the state has ever known. If you attended a fight card virtually anywhere in the state from the early 1970's through today, chances are that you saw Dr. Segal at ringside, conducting physicals or examining a badly cut eye for the referee. Be it the historic Duane Bobick-Scott LeDoux fights or Anthony Bonsante-Matt Vanda bout, it was Dr. Segal administering the physicals and monitoring the injuries. In fact, Dr. Segal's medical presence and expertise have been so reliable in Minnesota boxing, that not seeing him ringside is almost an abnormality. Born in Minneapolis in 1936, Dr. Segal's boxing background began in the Golden Gloves at the infamous Potts Gym on Hennepin Avenue. His love affair with the sport never left him. He later became a top surgeon in the Twin Cities and practiced at North Memorial and Mt. Sinai hospitals before that now famous call from Ching Johnson came in 1972. The Minnesota boxing community is glad it did, for under the watchful eye of Dr. Segal, he has the proud distinction of never having worked a fight that resulted in a serious injury. Dr. Segal has also testified on behalf of the sport both at the state capital, as well as on a PBS debate in 1983 against an anti-boxing advocate. As one of the behind the scenes heroes of the sport, he now will be recognized for his past, present, and future efforts to keep our boxers and our sport, safe.

 

 


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