Boxing reunion also looks to future
It was a lot to do with the past, but also an attempt to look to the future.
The Fourth Street Boxing Gym held a reunion for current and former boxers of the club on Saturday. Most of the boxers who attended fought back in the 1950s and 1960s and they got together to reminisce.
"We had a list of about 20," said Dale Hall.
The event was organized by Vic Hall, Dale's brother. The two Halls grew up in Rochester and boxed in the 1960s.
"It was a chance to get the fighters who are left to go over the memories," Vic Hall said.
And about 20 old, and some young, fighters did show up.
"I was amazed, I didn't know that many guys were still around," said Jack O'Connor, a long-time boxing trainer in Rochester.
Some of the other boxers on hand were Pat O'Connor, Tom Lenard, Bill Ringenberg, Pat Capelle, and John Roseboom.
"It's fun," Capelle said of the reunion. "I'm one of the founders of Fourth Street Gym."
A couple of active fighters to attend were Raphael Butler and Matt Wermers. Butler is currently a heavyweight professional boxer. Wermers is a 19-year-old amateur boxer.
"I love it, I have a real passion for it," Wermers said.
That was part of the goal for the old-time boxers. They were not only looking to talk about the good old days, but also trying to promote the sport for present and future generations.
"We're trying to get the young ones off the street, to keep them out of trouble," Vic Hall said. "We're trying to get them into a sport so they can do something."
"We do get a lot of street kids," Jack O'Connor admitted.
That the was mission of the Fourth Street Gym, when it opened in 1998 and then moved to its current location in 2003 at 615 1st Ave SW in Rochester, to give youngsters an outlet.
"It's just a way to give back to the community," Capelle said. "Back in the day this (boxing) was all we had. There was no hockey and all the others (sports). For some inner-city kids, boxing is all they have.
It's been a good club and Dan O'Connor is a big reason," Capelle added. "Those guys keep it going and we all help out."
Shaun O'Connor, a current trainer at First Street Boxing, said the club has about 20 current members, including three women. He expects that number to jump to 35 to 40 in the next month.
Vic Hall hopes that by holding a reunion like the one on Saturday, more youth will be aware of boxing and be encouraged to try the sport. He also hopes to continue to hold reunions.
"In the future, we'd like to get more people signed up," he said.