When Ron Marsh took off his horn-rimmed glasses it was almost like seeing Clark Kent turn into Superman.
A schoolteacher his entire adult life, from 1965 to '70 Marsh moonlighted as a professional boxer, was once regarded as a potential challenger to Muhammad Ali and later became a contender for the light heavyweight title.
He fought eight times in Milwaukee and won them all, including the biggest bout of his career at a sold-out Eagles Ballroom.
"I’d hate to think that just because I’m a fighter I’d be labeled an animal or a slob," the gentlemanly Marsh once told Ray Grody of the Milwaukee Sentinel. But when the glasses came off and the gloves went on, recalled local referee Paul Konner, "He’d take a street fight and put it into the ring, He had no reverence for anyone in the ring. A lot of guys pace themselves, but not this guy. He was something else."
Once the ninth-ranked light heavyweight in the world and a huge fan favorite here, Marsh was most proud of his 30 years in the classroom. "I think I’ve had a positive effect on a lot of kids," the phys-ed, science and health teacher said in an interview five years ago from his home in Overland, Kansas.
Marsh died there on Sept. 8 at age 70.
Born in Boise, Idaho, Marsh grew up in Kansas City. "Let’s just say that I had four tattoos on my arms by the time I was 12, and then got into trouble," he told Grody in 1970.
After his expulsion from high school in KC, Marsh moved to Omaha. He played high school football and became friends with a running back named Gale Sayers.
Hitchhiking one day from Omaha to KC, Marsh got a ride from an influential alum of Kansas University who tried to talk him into enrolling there. "I don’t know why you’re going for a rummy like me," Marsh told him. "Why don’t you go for somebody like Gale Sayers?"
Marsh and Sayers both ended up with KU football scholarships in 1961, and for four years Marsh blocked for the man who became one of college and pro football’s best run…Read more...