Scott LeDoux often cried privately after fights, for good reason. The judges’ decision in the 1977 Johnny Boudreaux fight was likely predetermined, with LeDoux suffering the loss. His furious comeback in August 1979 against Ken Norton resulted in a disappointing draw. The Gerri Coetzee fight in March 1982 was a farce. How could LeDoux win in Johannesburg with South Africa’s boxing commissioner refereeing the bout? Despite such disappointments, LeDoux was “the only Minnesota heavyweight ever to be ranked in the top 10 for six consecutive years,” former Star Tribune reporter Paul Levy notes in his new biography, “The Fighting Frenchman.”
“What the hell, I’m a truck driver with a clean shirt on,” LeDoux once joked. Though often good-natured, he was unsure of himself through much of his life. As a University of Minnesota Duluth football player, he’d begun boxing to counteract his insecurities. In college, he also met the irrepressible Sandy Tigue, the future wife who not only kept him grounded when he fought the biggest names in boxing — George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali — but also when he fought bums such as Arnold Sam in Gillette, Wyo.
Levy captures the seamy elements of pro boxing — the sweaty losers pounding heavy bags in 10th-rate gyms, the broken promises — as well as transcendent moments, such as when Chico Resch, former UMD hockey player and NHL star, pointed out LeDoux’s name in lights to him on the Madison Square Garden marquee.
Having twice seen LeDoux fight at the Met Sports Center in Bloomington, I knew he had heart. I just didn’t know all the rest of it.
Anthony Bukoski, short-story writer and boxing fan, lives in Superior, Wis.
The Fighting Frenchman
By: Paul Levy.
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, 247 pages, $25.95.