Former boxer and Anoka County commissioner packed a wallop -- with charitable work and with a quip.
Scott LeDoux had just been battered in the ring. When asked about an eye that was in tough shape, LeDoux retorted: "What's an eye when you've given your heart?"
As pastor Randy O'Brien told that story on Wednesday at LeDoux's memorial service, many among the 1,000 people who filled Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis nodded in agreement. LeDoux, the boxer, made noise with his fists. But LeDoux, a tireless crusader for charity, always opened his heart.
The Crosby, Minn., native who fought for boxing's heavyweight title and entered the ring with 11 champions, including Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Mike Tyson, died last Thursday at age 62 of complications related to ALS, a disease he battled his final three years.
"What a warrior!" Foreman told the Star Tribune. Foreman did not attend Wednesday's service but seemed genuinely moved by the man he beat in 1975. "You just don't know the value of a real good man until we lose one."
LeDoux was Minnesota's most popular boxer, with his 1976 fight against fellow Minnesotan Duane Bobick setting a state boxing attendance record that still stands. In his post-boxing career, he was twice elected by wide margins to the Anoka County board.
On Wednesday, the vast Mount Olivet church was filled with family, friends and fans. Former Gov. Jesse Ventura was there. Sen. Amy Klobuchar paid her respects, as did the entire Anoka County board. Tony Oliva, Lou Nanne, Joe Senser, Frank Quilici, Tom Reid, Bob Stein and other members of the Twin Cities retired sporting elite attended. Bob Lurtsema was a pall bearer. Former National Hockey League goalie Glenn "Chico" Resch and his wife, Diane, friends of LeDoux's for more than four decades, read from the Scriptures.
"His legacy is his charity work," said attorney Bob Dolan, who traveled the world to watch LeDoux's fights.
Dolan remembered LeDoux's final match, in London against a young Frank Bruno. LeDoux lasted three rounds. In the post-fight news conference, a reporter asked LeDoux if he could have beaten Bruno when he was in his prime. Of course, said LeDoux, adding, "When I was in my prime, Frank Bruno was 9 years old."
Karla Blomberg, president of Wishes & More, a charity for which LeDoux worked extensively, recalled a football game in which a big Wisconsin lineman was heckling the Minnesota crowd. LeDoux yelled to him, "You wanna go three rounds?" Then he added, "And you're buying the first two."
Minutes before former sparring partner Louie Hokanson rang a bell 10 times Wednesday, signaling LeDoux's final round, Dolan talked about how his friend traveled the world seeking a dream.
After each trip, LeDoux would say, "Except for 40 minutes [in the ring], that was a heck of a lot of fun."
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419