Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Hildebrandt Helped Mold Many Area Boxers

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Hildebrandt Helped Mold Many Area Boxers

Article excerpt

You may remember "Mickey" from the first three "Rocky" movies, the rough-around-the-edges trainer portrayed by the late, great Burgess Meredith. Evansville has its own "Mickey" in Dick Hildebrandt, who has several of the same characteristics, minus the cigar.

"When I first met my wife (Theresa), I told her he reminds me of Mickey from the 'Rocky' movies," said Tony Curtis, an Owensboro native who drove to Evansville to box for Hildebrandt in the 1980s. "He definitely has a heart of gold. He took the hard-knocks approach to me, never cut me any slack, and I always respected that."

Hildebrandt took several members of the Evansville Boxing Club under his wing, including J. J. Budde.

"Coach Hildebrandt is a special kind of person," said Budde, a detective for the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Dept. "He had a special place in his heart for young people."

Almost every local boxer who laced up a pair of gloves over the last 30 years has passed through the doors of the Evansville Boxing Club, said Budde, formerly an Indiana Golden Glover in the 152- pound adult division.

"I look up at him like a father figure," said Budde, 33.

Budde's mother, Joni, died in her late 50s of cancer when J. J. was 18.

Hildebrandt took him under his wing and fed him on occasion.

"He showed me things about myself that I didn't know, how tough I was," said Budde, who had been living on his own for about two years when he met Hildebrandt.

"I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I was poor, I was angry at the world and I lived a self-destructive lifestyle. Coach Hildebrandt taught me, through boxing, to work hard to achieve my goals and how to respect and like myself. Most of the young people who walk through the doors of his gym were troubled and from broken homes. When I met him, I had pretty low self- esteem, and he taught me to respect myself and like myself. …

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