Born: February 18th, 1924
Died: October 6th, 2003
The world of professional boxing has always been a world filled with enigmatic and colorful characters. When those characters are here, they are treasured; and when they are gone, they are missed. “Papa” Joe Daszkiewicz is both, and his name in the fight game is still referenced avidly by both those who knew him, and those that wished they had, and the tallies for each category numbers in the thousands.
Like many great trainers and managers in the sport of boxing, Joe Daszkiewicz got his first taste for the sport in the simon-pure amateur ranks. Long-time Minneapolis boxing trainer, Earl Kaehn, taught the spunky Polish scrappers the finer points of the game, and in doing so, planted the life-long seeds of the boxing bug, in young Joe. Those seeds began and sprout and blossom in the decade of the 1950′s, when Joe noticed the talent of another young Joe…Golden Gloves champion, Joe Schmolze. Daszkiewicz and Schmolze had a chemistry that few fighters and managers can ever hope for, much less find, and both Joe’s turned each other pro in the fall of 1955′. Schmolze the fighter, and Daszkiewicz the manager and trainer. And so began the era of “Papa” Joe Daszkiewicz in Minneapolis boxing; an era that would span four rich decades.
One of “Papa” Joe’s greatest attributes was his faith in the fighters he took managed, and that faith and loyalty was reciprocated by the boxers he handled. From his early days training at the Unity House to his final days training at the Camden Gym and Glover’s Gym, “Papa” Joe’s love affair with his boxers was well known. Be it the 1950′s with Joe Schmolze; the 1960′s with Harlow Irwin, Ed “Baker Boy” Hurley, Don Sargent, and Les Bagi; the 1970′s with Rafael Rodriguez, Doug Demmings, and Scott LeDoux, the 1980′s with Rocky Sekorksi and his son Chuck Daszkiewicz, or the 1990′s with Richie Albrecht , Jimmy Lee Smith, and Young Joe Louis, “Papa” Joe’s legacy with his fighters is unquestioned. There were a great many other fighters that Daszkiewicz managed, such as the comebacks of Dan Schommer and Jackie Graves, which included a world title fight in South Africa for Schommer, and Jackie Graves’s last career performances in 1955. Daszkiewicz commandeered his fighters in multiple title fights, but none so important as the 1980 bout between Scott LeDoux and Larry Holmes for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, a fight which still holds the state record for a gate at $253,000.
Another of Joe Daszkiewicz’s noted traits was his Hollywood-style charisma and emotion, and it was fitting; for few managers can boast of the amount of televised fights that he was able to garner for his stable of boxers, and fewer still, could light up a corner between rounds like “Papa” Joe did, delivering memorable quotes that made his fighters dig deep, and gave viewers at home tunnel vision and goose bumps. For Daszkiewicz, it was all in a day’s work, and he loved his job.
His four decades of contributions to Minnesota Boxing has left fans and participants of the sport here, spoiled, and heartbroken. Spoiled, in that we’d come to expect every boxing trainer/manager to be as captivating outside of the ring as they are in it, and heartbroken in the realization that his likeness may never be seen again. For the Mill City Polack with the belly laugh and the twinkle in his eye, was truly one of a kind, and his place in the annals of Minnesota Boxing history, are both treasured, and secure.