Addendum to "MN coming up short" - Mea Culpa

By Paul Strauss: A reader felt the article referenced above was disrepectful. That's probably true, but unintentional. It's hard to avoid hurt feelings when leveling criticism. Problems often when generalizing. Qualifications and exceptions aren't included with the criticism. The following remarks are an attempt to remedy that deficiency.

One thing is for sure, the previous article didn't offer too much in the way of praise. But, after all, it wasn't aimed at individuals. The target was the not so successful system. This addendum is not backing away from that point. The irrefutable fact is that success on the big stage at both the amatuer and professional levels has eluded MN fighters. Does pointing out that fact mean dedicated individuals attempting to remedy that situation don't deserve credit? Obviously not. .

It goes without saying there are many individuals, fighters, coaches and trainers in MN, who have devoted much of their lives to the sport. They've made and continue to make sacrifices and valuable contributions for the good of the sport. Their efforts deserve recognition and appreciation. For example, retired octogenarian Bill Kaehn, a good friend, has been at it since WWII. He fought while in the service, both on the battlefield and in the ring. When the war ended, he joined his father, and began helping him train the Flanagan brothers (Glen and Del). Bill hasn't stopped since. Most recently, he worked off and on with Anthony "The Bullet" Bonsante. Tony is another person who deserves credit, if for nothing else, that he has a sense of humor and some humility. When asked, "What did Allen Green hit you with when you fought him?" Without hesitation he humorously responded, "(He) hit me with anything he wanted to". Tony is a realist too, and he would be the first to tell you he wasn't the most gifted or skilled fighter around, despite Bill's efforts.

Ask anyone, and they will tell you Bill Kaehn's knowledge of the sport is unparalleled. As the old saying goes, "He's forgotten more about boxing than most of us willl ever know." No question about it. And, mentally. he is still sharp as can be. His experience covers more than sixty years, and includes training everyone from numerous Upper Midwest Champions, to a National Golden Gloves Champ. He also coached the University of Minnesota's Golden Gloves team. Professionally, he handled several legitimate contenders. This was in spite of being hit with leg paralyzing spinal stenosis. Most would have been sidelined with that crippling blow, but not Bill. He refused to let it prevent him from continuing to train fighters. When fight time arrived, he made arrangements to have a huge wrestler lift him up to the corner so he could tend to his charge.. There is no one more deserving of respect.

Are there others who deserve respect and credit? Of course. The list is extensive. There are family affairs: The Brunette Brothers (Tommy, Bobby, Al and Brian) out of St. Paul, The Daskiewiczs (Papa Joe and his two sons Pete and Chuck), The Fraziers (father Sankara and son Adonis), former fighters Ron Lyke, John Johnson, and one of special note and another octegenarian, Emmett Yanez (also WWII vintage). Then there's the fighter/referee/judge combo of Danny and Mark Nelson. The O'Connors south, and Chuck Horton up north (now retired)> Don't forget the hard working promoter and former fighter, Tony Grygelko What about those guys who try to pull it all together. Jeff Flanaan and Jake Wegner of the MNBOF, along with others work to protect and preserve the rich boxing heritage of Minnesota (yes, there really is one.). MNBHOF. Unfortunately, listing everyone deserving of recognition is not possible; although, a special note should be made about the accomplishments of one of the few females in the country, who is involved with owning and operating a boxing gym. Lisa Bauch does a great job with the Uppercut Gym in Minneapolis. She runs it in similar fashion to Gleasons in N.Y. In fact Lisa credits Gleasons, along with a few old timers, with teaching her much of her boxing and management skills. She has had to overcome more than her share of difficulties. .

Now, with the addendum made, what's next?

There's still the irrefutable fact that the current MN system or strategy "ain't working". There's no denying the obvious. When it comes to the big stage (contenders and champions), there haven't been many successful Minnesota fighters audition. An honest assessment of why not needs to be made. Current strategies aren't getting the job done. That's an undeniable fact. It's also a good bet consideration should be given to placing more emphasis on the "science" part of the "sweet science", and less on just being tough. Here's a hint: Who really cares how many bar fights someone has had? Oscar De La Hoya claims to have never had a fight outside of the ring! He did okay! Yeh, keep your hands up and try to be first is good, but remember boxing entails much more than that. Failure to realize that means a fighter is destined to go only so far before he comes up short against someone who has learned that lesson! That lesson calls for a different kind of "through my own fault" or simple "whoops!" That kind of painful neglect warrants more of a "Mea maxima culpa!"

Article posted on 21.12.2011

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