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Scott LeDoux: 1949-2011 - The 'Fighting Frenchman' loses his last fight

Scott Hanna remembers the day he and former Minnesota Duluth football teammate Scott LeDoux were clowning around when LeDoux mentioned he was a Golden Gloves boxer.

"And I said, 'Oh really?' " Hanna said. "So we began shadow boxing a little bit, and I think I caught my breath about three days later. Scott showed me that he was a boxer, and I about broke my rib. The guy could punch. I haven't forgotten that one."

LeDoux, a former world heavyweight boxing contender and UMD lineman, died Thursday afternoon at his home in Coon Rapids, Minn., at age 62 after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

LeDoux was diagnosed with the degenerative motor neuron disease in 2008 but continued to work for the next two years as Anoka County commissioner and state boxing commissioner, a role that occasionally brought him to Duluth for bouts.

LeDoux earned three letters with the Bulldog football team and started on both the offensive and defensive lines as a junior in 1968 playing under legendary UMD coach Jim Malosky, who, like LeDoux, is a native of Crosby, Minn.

"Scott could really run," Hanna said. "He was really fast for a big guy, and Malosky loved that. He could fly."

Hanna also remembers LeDoux as a fun-loving teammate who the rest of the guys wanted on their side.

"Scott LeDoux had a good time wherever he went, and he made sure everyone else did, too," Hanna said. "And obviously about as tough as could be."

It was at that time the 6-foot-2, 220-pound LeDoux began boxing at a dingy downtown gym across the street from the YMCA, winning the Upper Midwest Golden Gloves heavyweight title as a sophomore.

LeDoux left school a year early to enlist in the Army before returning to Minnesota to resume his boxing career. Known for taking abuse in the ring, he quickly earned the nickname "The Fighting Frenchman" after starting his pro career 12-0.

"A real-life fairy tale," former NHL goalie Glenn (Chico) Resch, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune of the close friend he met when both were students at UMD. "I remember when he fought at Madison Square Garden, pointing at the marquee, and shouting, 'It says Scott LeDoux up there in lights. Scotty, it doesn't get any bigger than this!'"

LeDoux lost a unanimous decision to fellow Minnesotan Duane Bobick in 1976 before about 14,000 fans at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., a bout that still holds the state record for attendance. He went on to have a record of 33-13-4, with 22 knockouts, but always had a soft spot for Duluth.

"When I was ranked seventh in the world, I was still ranked 25th at Tommy Byrnes' bar in Duluth," LeDoux joked in his interview with the Star Tribune.

LeDoux fought Larry Holmes for the World Boxing Council heavyweight title in 1980, suffering a seventh-round technical knockout, and is believe to be the only man to step in the ring with 11 heavyweight champions, including Muhammad Ali in an exhibition.

LeDoux was inducted into the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 2, 2009. Hanna, now a Bulldogs equipment manager, was on the committee that selected him.

"Scott was so excited about being inducted, and that made me feel good that a guy who has fought the best in the world would think that much of UMD," Hanna said. "That really impressed me. A lot of guys would have gone on in their careers and never thought twice about UMD again, but he still was a Bulldog at heart right until the end."

LeDoux and his wife, Carol, devoted the past three years to bringing awareness to a disease that robs the body of its strength but not its mind.

"I'm in the main event right now," Scott LeDoux told the News Tribune at the time of his hall induction. "A 15-round main event."