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Local boxing legend dies

Superior said goodbye to another member of the Superior Athletic Hall of Fame over the weekend.

Albert Andrews, 81, died Saturday at Mellen Manor Nursing Home in Mellen, Wis.

Andrews, who grew up in Oliver, gained popularity in the 1950s as an aggressive but likeable boxer.

He fought at the professional level from 1952-60 and faced some notable opponents during that time, including Gustaf Shoulz -- the European light-heavyweight champion -- in Madison Square Garden in 1956. Shoulz won a close decision over Andrews in 10 rounds.

Among Andrews' other opponents were five world champions: welterweights Carmen Basilio and Virgil Akins; middleweights Gene Fulmer and Joe Giardello; and light heavyweight Willie Pastrano.

Andrews ended his professional career with a 71-20 record and considered his knockout of middleweight Gil Turner a career highlight.

"I was pretty young to remember any of his fights," said Raleigh Andrews, Albert's brother. "He fought out of Chicago mostly."

Raleigh Andrews, the youngest of seven brothers, was born in 1953. He can't share many stories about Albert's boxing career, but he remembers how his older brother provided for the family after their mother died in 1955.

"Al stepped up and took care of the family with his boxing money," Raleigh Andrews said. "He really took care of us."

Albert Andrews was inducted into the Superior Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984, the same year Doug Sutherland and Americo "Mertz" Mortorelli were enshrined.

The Oliver native began his boxing career in Superior at 13 and continued at the amateur level until he was 17. He won 29 of 31 fights as an amateur and was twice named the Golden Gloves district champion of Duluth.

"He was determined," said Jim Andrews, 76. "He really liked boxing and he won a lot of amateur titles."

Boxing was a family affair growing up, Jim Andrews said. The three oldest brothers all learned to box, and he remembers walking from Oliver with his brothers to train in Superior three to four days a week.

"We didn't have a car, so we had to walk," Jim Andrews said.

Albert Andrews also gained recognition as a musician when he was young. Jim Andrews said when his brother wasn't boxing, he was playing the accordion.

"He could play an accordion as good an anybody," Jim Andrews said. "He played polka music around the county. Then his boxing career took over from there, of course."

In 1949, Andrews enlisted in the Army and continued to box. As a welterweight he won 32 of 34 fights, which included the Philippines Championship and the Fifth Army Championship.

After leaving the service Andrews began his professional career with Ike Bernstein, the coach for the Fifth Army team.

Andrews fought in 22 televised fights as a professional, more than half of which were broadcast nationally.

Roberts Funeral Home of Ashland is handling funeral arrangements for Andrews.

A memorial service will be held at the Moland Lutheran Church in Mason, Wis., at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5 with Pastor Julie Burmeister officiating. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. A reception will follow the service at the church.

Inurnment and military services will be held in the Moland Cemetery in the spring.