Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum: Fred Lenn: The Battling Boxer


Fred Lenn fought in two arenas--as a Marine serving during World War II and Korea, and in the ring as a champion amateur and professional boxer. The second of nine children born to Polish immigrant parents in 1914, Lenn grew up on Pittsburgh's South Side. Christened Walter Frederick Lenknowski at St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church in the Strip District, he learned to box from the social activist priest, Father Cox. Ordained in 1911, Cox first served as the assistant pastor at Epiphany Church in the lower Hill District. He also worked as the superintendent of the Pittsburgh Lyceum, a social and athletic club. There he oversaw the theater and arts program and coached the athletic teams. Noted boxers such as Harry Greb and Billy Conn trained there--Father Cox is said to have given light heavyweight champ Greb his first lessons in the ring.

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