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Twilight boxing proves to be a hit

On a breezy summer Friday night, the lights at Spiegelberg Stadium beameddown on plenty of bruising hitting.

It wasn't the kind of action that has traditionally taken place at thehallowed stadium named after the late legendary Medford High football coachFred Spiegelberg.

Instead of tackles, there were straight rights. Instead of blocking cameuppercuts. Instead of touchdowns, there were knockdowns.

The occasion was the Fred Spiegelberg Memorial Invitational boxing program.

The event was the brainchild of Bulldog Boxing Club founder Joe Pedrojetti.It was a way to honor Spiegelberg, who died at the age of 76 in March of1996.

Spiegelberg was a former boxer and an avowed enthusiast of the sport.

His spirit is her for sure, said Spiegelberg's 39-year-olddaughter, Shawn Retzlaff. He's watching down on us.

Retzlaff, in attendance with her three young sons and a contingent offriends and family, was wearing three of Fred Spiegelberg's boxing medalsfrom his college days at Washington State University on a blue string aroundher neck.

Bill Singler, an all-state wide receiver on one of Spiegelberg's greatestMedford High teams, was among the family friends sitting behind Retzlaffat ringside on the finely manicured grass field.

It's an exciting moment right now, said Singler. Knowinghow much Fred enjoyed boxing, he would have loved this. He would be brimmingfrom this type of event tonight.

The evening began with a moment of silence for the old coach and boxing'sversion of the 21-gun salute ­ the 10-count, with the ringside bellrung 10 times ­ following the national anthem.

An estimated 1,200 enthusiastic spectators watched matches primarilyfeaturing Medford Bulldog Boxing Club members against those from Coos Bay,Nyssa, San Diego, Calif., and Carson City, Nev.

A consensus of comments from fan interviews was, This is somethingSpieg would have loved.

I took boxing from Spiegelberg in the early '50s, said TomAlley, 57, who has lived in Medford since 1942. He gave boxing lessonsto the kids all the time in the summer.

Keep your hand up, keep that right up, shouted Alley, givingencouragement to North Medford High sophomore Dennis Jackson during thesecond bout of the 11-fight card.

I used to watch fights at the old Rialto Theater and the RogueValley Ballroom, said Alley. They called it the `Brawl Room.'

Not only was Alley impressed with the coaching but the intentions ofthe Bulldog Club.

It's super Pedrojetti is doing this, said Alley. There'ssome kids that would be doing things that aren't too good if it wasn't forthis.

Jeri Jennings from Klamath Falls was positioned at ringside with herfriend, Diane Hoover of Medford. Both women are corporate administrativeassistants.

These little kids are very intense, said Jennings, who wasattending her first live boxing event. You can see what they are doingis very important to them. You hear about these type of things going onin a big city, but I never thought about it here. I would come back in aheartbeat.

It's good development for staying focused and learning how to competeand keep trying, added Hoover.

Bulldog boxer Ken Stickler gave the crowd a lot to cheer about with asecond-round technical knockout over Jason Duncan of Coos Bay in the fifthbout on the card.

Stickler, a 32-year-old Grants Pass dry wall contractor, is complimentaryabout the Bulldog club.

I've been in three or four different clubs and you get a differentatmosphere here, said Stickler, who began boxing as an 18-year-oldin Washington. Our club is a family. That's why we're so good. It'sall because of our three trainers Joe (Pedrojetti), Jimmy (Pedrojetti) andWes (Wambold).

The Bulldog Club gave the fans a show with victories in all nine of itsmatches. Tino Ledesma, one of the original Bulldog members, was voted outstandingjunior fighter. Ernest Johnson of San Diego was recognized as outstandingsenior fighter.

Grants Pass's Ken Stickler, right, and Coos Bay's Jason Duncan go at it in the ring as about 1,200 boxing fans watch at Spiegelberg. - Photo by Andy Atkinson</P