Columbus native Dale Spears’ legacy continues to live on more than a year after his Nov. 4, 2016 death.
Sixty-five-year-old retired boxer Floyd Sanders said he never would have made it to the Brownstown Boxing Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for Spears, whom he met 45 years ago. Spears trained Sanders, along with many other Columbus boxers over the years.
A factory accident that took part of Spears’ arm ended his own boxing career, but not before his 1955 fight in Louisville against one of the greatest boxers of all time in Cassius Clay, who later became known as Muhammad Ali.
“I worked with a lot of good trainers,” Sanders said. “Dale Spears was one of the best … We had one good relationship. He was one good man, and he helped me get to where I’m at today.”
Spears was 74 when he passed.
Sanders trained every day with Spears for five to six hours. Spears taught Sanders everything he didn’t already know about boxing to that point, Sanders said.
Their relationship also expanded outside of the boxing ring.
Sanders would hang out at the Bartholomew County Fair, where Spears would sit and talk with Sanders for hours at a time, mostly about boxing. Spears also would travel as far as West Virginia with Sanders and the other boxers he trained to compete in fights.
Sanders was recognized by an Olympic boxing trainer after beating five boxers during a trip on which Spears took him.
“He took me to a lot of places,” Sanders said. “He took time out for those kids, the kids that would come in and work out. He took time for those kids.”
Sanders went on to become a professional and made it on ESPN when he fought Marvin Johnson. He also fought on Joe Frazier’s card.
Sanders credits Spears with much of his boxing success and said he will always be remembered.
“He will always be in my prayers, and he will always be a legend,” Sanders said.