Ex-fight promoter owned Somerset restaurant, later helped boost Apple River tubing popularity
Jack Raleigh, a former wrestler, boxer and boxing promoter who later ran a popular Somerset, Wis., restaurant and is credited with starting the popular Apple River tubing business, will be inducted later this month into the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame.
The induction banquet for the boxing hall’s Class of 2013 that includes Raleigh is Sept. 27 at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake.
Raleigh, who died in 1984 at age 81, held a St. Paul boxing franchise for 25 years and promoted fight cards the sold out stadiums and auditoriums featuring boxers such as Kid Gavilan, Virgil Atkins, Joey Giardello and Ralph Dupas.
The Gavilan-Del Flanagan welterweight fight in St. Paul in the early 1950s that Raleigh promoted had a $43,653 gate, one of the largest in state history.
In a letter to Raleigh’s son, Pat, announcing Jack Raleigh’s boxing hall induction, hall board president Jack Wegner writes that Jack Raleigh “helped to keep Minnesota on the map in the world of professional boxing.”
Pat Raleigh said his father’s boxing promotion career resulted from Jack Raleigh’s brawling days growing up during the Great Depression.
“Dad was a Depression-era person,” said Pat Raleigh. “Dad started wrestling at carnivals. He never lost a match. He was a better wrestler than boxer.”
At one point in Jack Raleigh’s youth, he trained as a boxer with one of the sport’s most famous champions, according to Pat Raleigh.
“My dad trained under Jack Johnson in 1920 and 1921,” said Pat Raleigh.
The 1929 stock market crash and ensuing Depression brought Jack Raleigh to Somerset, Wis., for work, Pat Raleigh said.
Jack Raleigh’s restaurant career started with a food court at Archie’s Bar in Somerset, Pat Raleigh recounts. After Jack Raleigh married Alice Jacobson in 1939, the couple bought a restaurant a year later and named it Raleigh’s Cafe. In 1946, Pat Raleigh said his parents bought the Riverdale Nightclub and renamed it River’s Edge.
Jack Raleigh continued promoting boxing matches through the 1950s before leaving that business in the early 1960s to focus on River’s Edge and the Apple River tubing operation, Pat Raleigh said.
“In 1961, dad retired from boxing promoting and started the tubing down the river after the Twins moved to Minneapolis from Washington (D.C.) and the Vikings started playing that year,” said Pat Raleigh.
Pat Raleigh said he and his siblings urged their father to start the Apple River tube rental operation since tubing was done on a small scale on the 1.5-mile stretch east of the St. Croix River. The family’s tubing business took off in 1972 after a nationally broadcast report on the activity by the late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt.
“Boy, did that bring people out of the woodwork,” said Pat Raleigh.
Jack Raleigh never really retired from work, according to Pat Raleigh. He said his father passed away while cleaning the River’s Edge parking lot.
“He was working the day he died. He was sweeping the parking lot. He was found by a maintenance man coming to work that morning lying in the shrubs. He died peacefully,” said Pat Raleigh.
Contact Erik Sandin at [email protected]