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The Fighting Frenchman

Minnesota’s Boxing Legend Scott LeDoux

2016

Paul Levy

The Fighting Frenchman

He battled boxing’s elite, but the real story lies in the way this Minnesota Rocky lived

The only man to step into the ring with eleven heavyweight champions, Scott LeDoux also fought through two of boxing’s greatest scandals, recurring illness, and childhood trauma that haunted him for decades. From the mining community of Crosby, Minnesota to the stage of Madison Square Garden, award-winning journalist Paul Levy gives us a real sense of what it was like to spar with Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali.

Scott’s story is fascinating. He was a complex man, a boy damaged early in his life who grew into a man who excelled in a violent sport but had a heart filled with generosity and tenderness.

Glenn “Chico” Resch, retired National Hockey League goalie

Scott LeDoux’s face read like a roadmap of boxing’s last golden era—eye thumbed by Larry Holmes, brow gashed by Mike Tyson, ears stung by none other than Muhammad Ali. “George Foreman hit me so hard,” LeDoux said, “my ancestors in France felt it.” The only man to step into the ring with eleven heavyweight champions, LeDoux also fought through two of boxing’s greatest scandals, recurring illness, and childhood trauma that haunted him for decades. This is his story, the life and times of a Minnesota Rocky making the most of the hard knocks that bruise the American Dream, told in full for the first time by award-winning journalist Paul Levy.

He was never a world champion, but Scott LeDoux was always the people’s champ. Doing his best to turn a small-town miner’s son into boxing’s next great white hope, Don King said of Scott LeDoux: “He eats rusty nails for breakfast, punches holes in concrete with either hand, bobs and weaves like a giant Rocky Marciano.” He was a big, good-natured kid, with a ready wit and the will to take all comers along on a ride he himself found hard to believe. From the mining community of Crosby, Minnesota, to the dingy, mildew-scented dressing rooms in minor-league towns like Sioux Falls and Billings, to the stage of Madison Square Garden, Levy gives us a real sense of what it was like to spar with fighters such as Tyson and Ali. The buried secrets of childhood abuse and the harrowing sadness of death and disease in his family make LeDoux’s triumphs and defeats all the more poignant and, in Levy’s irresistible narrative, unforgettable.

The Fighting Frenchman

Paul Levy was a writer for the Minneapolis–St. Paul Star Tribune for thirty-five years. He has written for the New York Times, ABC News, the Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, and Mother Jones.

The Fighting Frenchman

Scott’s story is fascinating. He was a complex man, a boy damaged early in his life who grew into a man who excelled in a violent sport but had a heart filled with generosity and tenderness.

Glenn “Chico” Resch, retired National Hockey League goalie

Scott was a funny guy who fought courageous battles in and out of the ring with heart and determination. We shared many laughs and shed a lot of tears through the years.

Bob Goodman, boxing matchmaker, promoter, and member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame

What a story! Scott had a tough life, but he was such a happy-go-lucky guy. He was a generous guy, like a big daddy who loved to guide kids. With Scott LeDoux, what you saw is what you got. When he opened his mouth, people listened and laughed.

Frank Quilici, former Minnesota Twins player and manager

Scott was larger-than-life whenever he entered a room. His quick wit, his endearing charm, and his smile always captured the attention of those who had just met him or knew him a little or a lot. But don't be mistaken, he also had a very serious side, and he wanted to be known for his abilities outside of the ring—he wanted to be more than a guy who could take a punch. This book gives insight to his humor, his suffering, his compassion, and his passion. ALS took him far too soon, and Minnesota lost one of the most charitable celebrities the world has known. His story deserves to be told.

Karla Blomberg, president of Wishes & More, former president of Make-A-Wish International

Nobody ever gave 100 percent like Scott did. You can argue about his technique, but not his heart and effort. Of course, after every fight he lost, he’d say, ‘He never touched me,’ or that it was a lucky punch.

Bob Lurtsema, Minnesota Vikings legend

What a warrior!

George Foreman, two-time heavyweight champion

The Fighting Frenchman

Contents
Introduction: Five Minutes to Go
1. The Great Milford Mining Disaster
2. Doc and Mickey
3. “I Thought I Had Done Something Bad”
4. When Lightning Struck
5. The Last Place on Earth
6. “I’ve Had Enough”
7. Sandy
8. Papa Joe
9. The Great White Shadow
10. One for the Record Books
11. A Foreman Grilling
12. A Hair-Raising Fix
13. A Suspension, a Missing Mouthpiece, a Rematch
14. “To Be Somebody”
15. The Greatest?
16. Always King
17. Six Months to Live
18. Cold, Hard Cash
19. Luck of the Draw
20. The Monroe Doctrine
21. “What’s an Eye When You’ve Given Your Heart?”
22. Last Rounds
23. Game Seven
24. Down for the Count
25. Crucial Confrontation
26. Something to Prove
27. Funeral for a Friend
Afterword: The Greatest and More
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index