Deaths outside the ring

class=img_thumbleft> It is one of the peculiar ironies of blood sports that the people who are drawn to these dangerous worlds often wind up dead for reasons unrelated to their chosen profession. This fact has been impressed on me forcefully lately.

This week, I received two phone calls concerning the recent deaths of people I'd spent time with while researching articles for CP.

Ron Peterson, the boxing promoter from Mounds View, informed me about the passing of Marc Hans, a heavyweight from northeast Minneapolis. Outside of local boxing circles, Hans wasn't well known. As an amateur in the 1970s, though, he compiled an impressive record, racking up four Upper Midwest Gold Gloves titles.

Hans fared less well as a pro, says Peterson, because he developed diabetes; consequently, he didn't have the stamina to continue into the longer rounds. His most notable fight against a big name pro--rising star and future two division champion Michael Spinx in 1979--ended ignominiously in a first round knockout. Hans continuted fighting until 1996, occasionally under assumed names. After that, he became one of those guys who just hung around the game, setting up the ring, working corners for other fighters, earning peanuts.

According to Peterson, who regards Hans as one of the Minnesota boxing scenes all around best guys, Hans relocated to Las Vegas a few years ago, where he spent his last years in ill health. He was found dead in his trailer over the weekend, Peterson says, owing to a combination of diabetes, Parkinsons disease and continued alcohol use. He was 53.

A sadder story yet: the death of bull rider Josh Wagner. In 1999, I profiled Wagner, who was then one of the Minnesota rodeo world's leading lights. He was a tough, laconic kid who was among the very few people on the local scene able to carve out a living from the rough trade. According to Jan Anderson, the grandmother of Josh's best friend and fellow bull rider, Wagner took his own life on March 17 after a long struggle with methamphetamine addiction.

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