Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wesbury 'Wes' Bascom; Boxing Champ Hung Up His Gloves to Go to College and Become a Teacher in St. Louis

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wesbury 'Wes' Bascom; Boxing Champ Hung Up His Gloves to Go to College and Become a Teacher in St. Louis

Article excerpt

Wes Bascom, who died Sunday, tried on his first pair of boxing gloves at an East St. Louis gym in 1945. Before long, he was knocking out just about anyone who got in the ring with him.

He won the 1949 International Golden Gloves light-heavyweight championship, turned professional and won 13 straight fights, eight by knockouts.

He thought he was on his way to becoming the next Joe Louis, the boxing champ who helped integrate sports. But Mr. Bascom's mother didn't like him fighting and made him promise to get a college education.

The other problem was the handful of top boxers whom Mr. Bascom couldn't beat.

After a promising career, he hung up his gloves for good.

He went on to hold a variety of jobs, including working for the YMCA with inner-city children. He kept his promise to his mother, went to college and became a popular teacher in the St. Louis Public Schools.

Wesbury Bascom died July 22, 2012, at his home near Florissant. He was 83 and had been diagnosed in 2006 with Alzheimer's disease, his wife said Thursday.

Mr. Bascom took up boxing hoping it would help condition him for football, his real love. He was a star at Lincoln High School in East St. Louis - good enough to earn two scholarship offers.

He lived with his divorced mother, who held night and day cleaning jobs. She warned him against getting in trouble, saying if he ever went to jail, he would be on his own.

He took her advice so seriously, he never even joined a clique like other kids in his neighborhood.

"For one thing," he explained in a 1967 Post-Dispatch interview, "I had an odd name. Can you imagine a hard-nosed fullback with the name of Wesbury?"

He found a boxing trainer in Ted "Pop" Myles in East St. Louis. He put the snap in Mr. Bascom's punches and taught him that you beat an opponent with your left hand, not your right.

Mr. Bascom won the International Golden Gloves crown in 1949 at Madison Square Garden, knocking out the European champ in the third round.

"He was no problem," Mr. Bascom recalled. "Boxing came easy to me."

After three years as a Golden Gloves champ, he turned pro in 1950. The next year, he defeated the fourth-ranked light- heavyweight contender in a bout at the Arena. …

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