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BECHEN, Francis J. "Fran". (Dubuque, IA, 1935--Dubuque, IA, Aug. 23, 2019). Bechen's involvement in BOXING led him to opportunities to meet such greats in the sport as Oscar De La Hoya; Sugar Ray Leonard; Roy Jones, Jr.; Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins; and Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero.
Bechen began boxing in November, 1955 when the training facilities were located in the old American Legion building at the corner of Fourth and Locust, the later site of SHOT TOWER INN (THE). At the time, he was an employee of FARLEY AND LOETSCHER MANUFACTURING COMPANY. Overcoming a handicap caused by polio as a child, Bechen developed a widely respected left hook and an intense drive to succeed.
In 1956 Fran Bechen won the Cedar Rapids Golden Gloves open title. He went on to establish the following record:
1956 Cedar Rapids Golden Gloves Champion 1959 Rockford Golden Gloves Champion 1960 Rockford Golden Gloves Runner-Up 1961 Cedar Rapids Golden Gloves Champion 1962 Rockford Golden Gloves Champion 1963 Rockford Golden Gloves Champion 1964 Rockford Golden Gloves Champion 1976 Iowa A.A.U. Champion 1978 Iowa A.A.U. Runner-Up 2004 Ringside World Masters Champion 2005 Ringside World Masters Champion 2006 Ringside World Masters Champion 2007 Desert Showdown Masters Champion 2008 Ringside World Masters Champion 2009 Ringside World Masters Champion 2012 Ringside World Masters Champion
Bechen held a record for being the only boxer ever to quality six times for the Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions. When the World Masters program began around 2002, Bechen entered. Competitions in this program featured boxers 35 years or older competing in categories determined by age and weight. (See picture of Bechen's championship belts.)
Bechen continued in boxing as an official in amateur and then professional competitions beginning in 1970. With only one year's experience as an AAU official, he was chosen as one of the top four officials at the National AAU tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada where in four days, including seven sessions, he refereed 11 bouts and judged 38 others. A meticulous record-keeper, Bechen in 2011 could show evidence of refereeing 4,350 bouts, judging 5,677, and being a time/clock keeper in 173. He had offered 37 clinics and been involved in 138 tournaments and 615 events.
In addition to boxing, Bechen taught in the DUBUQUE COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT. He graduated from LORAS COLLEGE in 1968 and taught Level 1 and 2 Spanish at DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL (1968-1983) and STEPHEN HEMPSTEAD HIGH SCHOOL (1983-1997) when he retired. He earned his Master's degree in guidance and counseling from Loras in 1975. He also earned his green belt in judo, a pilot's license, and completed forty-one skydiving experiences. He began judging mixed martial arts bouts in 2008. In 2012 he completed the Association of Boxing Commission Training Seminars for Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Judges. He was inducted into the National Golden Gloves Officials Hall of Fame and received the Outstanding Judge Award.
Interview, Oct. 16, 2012