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There'll be hitting on the gridiron

Fred Spiegelberg never met Wes Wambold, but the two men had somethingin common ­ boxing.

Spiegelberg, who died on March 22, 1996, is best known for his contributionsto Medford High Black Tornado football. But his first love was boxing.

Wambold, trainer for Bulldog Boxing Club of Medford, recently registeredhis 2,000th win as a corner man in a career spanning 40 years.

Because of Spiegelberg's interest in boxing, Bulldog founder Joe Pedrojettidecided to honor the legendary football coach with a boxing program at thestadium named after him.

Thus, the Fred Spiegelberg Memorial Invitational will take place Fridayat Medford's high school football facility.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the first of at least 10 amateur bouts beginsat 7:30.

Ticket prices are $10 ringside, $7.50 reserved and $5 general admission.Also, any child under 12 will be admitted free accompanied by a paid adult.Cost for students, with a student body card, is $3.

Approximately 11 local boxers ranging from 11-year-old Jose Cabrera to32-year-old Ken Stickler will have bouts with fighters from Coos Bay, Albany,Nyssa, San Diego, Reno and Carson City, Nev.

Pedrojetti remembers whenever he got together with Spiegelberg, the formerfootball coach always reminisced about boxing.

I think he loved football, but his real passion was boxing,says Pedrojetti. Friday is his night. It's at his stadium. Why nothonor a guy who touched a lot of kids' lives and a lot of people's lives?

Spiegelberg began boxing as a boy in Omak, Wash., and fought collegiatelyat Washington State University.

He grew up boxing, says Spiegleberg's daughter, Shawn Retzlaffof Medford, and he always loved reading about it and keeping up withboxers.

I was thrilled to see Joe put this together. It's totally apropos.

While Spiegelberg had a positive effect on Medford's young people throughouthis career, Wambold is doing much the same now. Both coaches used disciplineand conditioning as a foundation for their success.

Wambold's interest in boxing began inadvertently as a 20-year-old trackteam member at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey in 1951.

I had been out running and when I came into the gym the boxingcoach asked if there was anyone in shape to work out with a welterweight,says the 66-year-old Applegate Valley resident. I said I was in shapeand went on to spar a couple of rounds with his boxer.

That initial experience taught Wambold something he never forgot: Youcan have all the talent, but if someone is in better shape that can makethe difference. Conditioning is everything in boxing.

The next year Wambold became the boxing coach for the installation andthe Navy electrician continued in a similar capacity wherever he was stationeduntil his retirement from the Navy in 1967.

Wambold was the all-Navy coach for four years and was a finalist forthe Olympic boxing coach in 1964.

When Wambold left boxing in 1989, the veteran trainer was 76 wins shortof 2,000. He ended his long association with the sport because of healthproblems and the desire to do something else with his life ­ like paintinglandscapes. But the notion of achieving 2,000 wins lingered in his mind.

I always thought about it when I stopped, says Wambold. Itwas really just something personal. It's kind of an honor bestowed uponme by my fighters.

Wambold wasn't intending to return to boxing when he moved to SouthernOregon in 1992. But a chance encounter with Pedrojetti at the Rogue Warriorgym in Phoenix eventually led to the formation of the Bulldog Club lastfall.

The biggest thing that attracted me to Wes is his love for thekids, not his boxing knowledge, says Pedrojetti. He puts outthe effort for the kids and they sense that. If they call him he picks themup and takes them to school or brings them to the gym. It's unusual fora pro trainer who has trained seven world champions to have such involvementwith the kids.

Through the guidance of Pedrojetti and Wambold, the Bulldog club hasachieved much success. The club, which began with four members but now boostsabout 30 regulars, has posted a 94-21 record in matches against similarorganizations.

On May 18 at the Region 12 Junior Olympic Championships in Portland,a 4-foot-6, 80-pound fighter provided Wambold with his 2,000 victory. Thelofty milestone was achieved when 11-year-old Daniel Boone Wyatt of Medfordregistered a victory by decision.

Despite his many accomplishments, Wambold's experience with the BulldogClub ranks with the best of what he's done in the sport.

This is nothing like I've ever done before, says Wambold.I get a lot more pleasure out of it than the kids do. Or at leastthat's the way I feel. These kids tell us things and ask us for advice inareas that really surprises me.

Even though Wambold didn't know Spiegelberg, he has a perspective onthe coach's legacy.

The only monument that you leave behind is what people think ofyou, says Wambold. That's the case with Spiegelberg. He'll neverbe gone as long as people remember him.

Friday's boxing show at the football stadium will keep that memory alive.

Wes Wambold, center, of the Bulldog Boxing Club has trained 2,000 victors over his 40-year boxing career. - Photo by Jim Craven</P