Last week I did a different type of sports story. It was about K-M junior Spencer Condon of Kasson. He tried different sports and was never excited enough to stick with them. Then he decided to give boxing a try three years ago.
I interviewed Spencer and took several photos at the 4th Street Gym in Rochester. The gym is owned by Dan O'Conner and caters to at risk youth. The monthly fees are minimal.
I talked to the senior member of the O'Conner family, Jack. He was very cordial and passionate about helping at risk youth and giving them an outlet that can make a difference in their lives.
I also talked briefly with Pat O'Conner and if you don't know that name you did not live in the Rochester area in the late 60's and early 70's. Boxing was big in the Rochester area at that time and as a young teenager I can remember my father taking us to boxing matches at the Mayo Civic Center. In one match O'Conner fought and defeated fellow Minnesotan Duane Horseman despite breaking his hand during the match.
Pat O'Conner was to boxing what Charlie Mayo was to medicine in Rochester. He was a national Golden Gloves champion at 16 and had an amateur record of 150-10. He was 41-6 as a professional with 19 knockouts.
Visiting the 4th Street Gym brought back some fond memories of Pat O'Conner who was bigger than life to a young teen like myself. That was a day when boxing was a very big sport. Now a days you are lucky to see anything in the sports section of a major daily about boxing.
Boxing has had a reputation for recruiting troubled youth. The 4th Street Gym is looking to change all that by giving kids an alternative to hanging out on the streets and pursuing a more destructive path.
I don't know anything about Spencer Condon's background, but I do know that the 4th Street Gym has been a positive influence on him and the volunteers at the gym are a big part of helping kids get on the right path. For me, Pat O'Conner was a boxing legend from the late 60 and early 70's we will be hard pressed to see again in this area.