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Jack Raleigh selected for Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame

Jack Raleigh became one of the leading boxing promoters in the nation in the 1950s.1 / 2
Jack Raleigh spent long hours on the phones to bring nationally-ranked boxers to the Twin Cities.2 / 2

Nearly 30 years after his death, Jack Raleigh's numerous contributions to the sport of boxing will be remembered with a supreme honor.

Raleigh has been selected as part of the 2013 class of inductees into the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame.The induction banquet will be held on Friday, Sept. 27, at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minn.

Raleigh was one of the most successful boxing promoters in Minnesota in the 1950s and 1960s, helping make St. Paul a national hub of boxing activity.

Raleigh and his wife, Alice, started the River's Edge restaurant in Somerset in 1945. The restaurant continues to stay in the family, now run by their children.

The biggest success that Raleigh saw as a promoter was built around cards that featured

Glen and Del Flanagan, the St. Paul brothers who are both inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Del Flanagan is considered by many to be the best boxer ever produced in Minnesota. Raleigh organized boxing cards that had Flanagan facing some of the top boxers in the nation, such as Kid Gavilan, Virgil Akins and Joey Giardello.

A bout featuring Flanagan and Gavilan brought in a game of $43,653, which remains the largest in Minnesota history. That 1957 fight card at the St. Paul Auditorium was arranged by Raleigh and drew a crowd of 9,400.

Jack's son, Pat, was 8 and that was the first fight he attended with his father. Jack was a deeply religious man and what he did before the match left an indelible mark in his son's memory.

"Some of the fighters on the card were in their first fights and they were scared," Pat said. "Dad would hold the hands of each of the boxers and say a prayer that everyone had a good fight and that nobody got hurt."

Jack Raleigh owned the boxing promotion franchise for St. Paul for nearly 25 years. He would later get the St. Paul franchise for hosting closed circuit television broadcasts of many of the top heavyweight fights of the 1970s.

In 1958 he received the George Barton Award from the Minnesota Athletic Commission for his contributions to boxing.

More on the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame can be found at its website:

Raleigh was born in Alden Township near Star Prairie in 1903. He worked for several years as a carnival wrestler and boxer. There are reports that he won the heavyweight boxing championship for the state of South Dakota.

He came to Somerset in 1933. Raleigh began his restaurant career that year, opening a food stand in Archie's Bar. He married Alice Jacobson in 1939 and they opened Raleigh's Cafe in Somerset the following year. In 1945, they bought the Riverdale Night Club and renamed it The River's Edge. At the time the restaurant seated 65 customers. The Raleighs expanded the business to a capacity of 600 customers.

Raleigh was a master salesman and promoter. When the tourism business of renting innertubes so people could float down the Apple River began to catch on in the 1960s, Raleigh worked his magic again. People from all over the Midwest flocked to Somerset to tube down the river. It gained great notoriety when Raleigh convinced Charles Kuralt of CBS News to do a segment for his "On The Road" series at the River's Edge.

Raleigh died in 1984 at the age of 81.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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