“The Fighting Frenchman” Scott LeDoux, 61, will be retiring from his position as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission due to his continuing battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, according to long-time friend and MCSC commissioner Bob Dolan.
The retired heavyweight boxer, who was instrumental in the return of the commission that oversees both boxing and mixed martial arts events in Minnesota, was first diagnosed with ALS in August of 2008.
“It is with great sadness that Scott announces that he’s going to have to resign from the commission due to his failing health,” Dolan said. “It is a great loss to the mixed martial arts community.”
Over the past year his involvement with the commission has diminished as his health worsened, while most of his duties have fallen on MCSC office administrator Matt Schowalter.
LeDoux will be stepping down in mid-May according to Dolan.
The commission established a three person panel at tonight’s meeting, made up of Bob Stein, Craig Gallop and Pat Fallon. The panel will interview potential candidates and eventually make a recommendation to the full commission on who should replace LeDoux. The commission will then make their recommendation to the Governor on who they think should be appointed. No timeline was given on when the process will be completed.
Gov. Jesse Ventura abolished the Minnesota Boxing Commission in 2001 as a cost cutting measure. LeDoux lobbied Governor Tim Pawlenty for its reinstatement, which took place in 2006. In 2008 the commission’s authority was expanded to regulate mixed martial arts events like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Since its rebirth, the commission has overseen a handful of nationally televised boxing events and brought UFC to the Target Center in August of 2008. The UFC event featuring Brock Lesnar had a sell out crowd of 15,082 people and set an all-time box office record for the Target Center of $2.25 million.
LeDoux’s time as the executive director has not been without minor controversy. In 2007, Mille Lacs Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin requested Pawlenty remove LeDoux from the commission after she said he had “repeatedly called her band 'stupid' and greedy during an argument over boxing matches the tribe staged at Grand Casino Hinckley,” according to Star Tribune reports at the time.
"I said the tribe could save money by relying on the Minnesota Boxing Commission for help in organizing the fight and told [Jim Perrault, a state boxing judge], 'It's stupid not to do this. ... I never said the tribe is stupid. I may be a lot of things, but I'm no racist,' " LeDoux said at the time.
“I think the stuff that went on with the Mille Lacs’ commission was taken out of context," according to Dolan. "There is no one that has more respect for diversity then Scott.”
In 2008, a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor chastised LeDoux for distributing 18 tickets to the August 2008 UFC event at the Target Center to his friends and family, which is a violation of state ethics laws.
In a written response to the report, LeDoux said, “Promoters do not like to have ring side seats vacant for broadcasting purposes, among others. It is common practice in the boxing world for promoters to distribute tickets and the past commission, which I was on for 18 years, was no exception. We always distributed tickets for the promoters, and as a commission member, we had tickets for our use."
“Sometimes the bad things overshadow the good things, but the reality of it is he’s done more good then harm, and he should be remembered for the good he did,” Dolan said.
In his response to the 2008 Legislative Auditor report, LeDoux also wrote about the lack of support the commission had received from the state in setting up the commission. “I liken this process of starting a new agency to being dropped in a cave with no light. We were thrown into the vortex of the state’s maze of procedures, statutes, and requirements without any assistance about where to find the answers and needed information.”
“I think its come a long way since he’s been involved with it and we’re going to miss him,” Dolan said.
LeDoux faced many of the top heavyweights of his time in the ring, including Ken Norton, Leon Spinks, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. His 1974 fight with Duane Bobick, which drew 13,789 to the Met Center, still holds the attendance record for a boxing match held in Minnesota.
“Scott’s greatest legacy is not what he did for boxing per se, but what he did for those who needed help. His charity work is legendary in this state. His desire to make life better for those who have difficulty in life is what’s kept him going all these years.”