Find an individual who either played a sport or was a member of a support group. Search by last name by clicking on the first letter of the person's last name.
<< Return to Member List
Mr. Louis A. Campbell (Deceased)
|This footnote section has information provided by three sources: 1) Highlight information from the Athletic Network; 2) Personal recollections provided by Paul Bergeron, a fellow student who attended SLI when Louis
Campbell was a student; and 3) Prides of Acadiana written by Bruce Brown (1980).
* * * * * * * *
Heavyweight boxer who, on March 29, 1941 at Penn State University was the first Southwestern boxer to win a NIAA Championship.
Member, UL Athletic Hall of Fame, and 1947 Coach of the SLI Boxing Team.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Louie Campbell by Paul Bergeron who was a student in school at the time.
Louie Campbell burst upon the college boxing scene in January 1940 when he, according to the 1940 yearbook "wasted no time in putting his name on the winning side of the ledger. He dumped Paul McDonald, (Loyola University, New Orleans) 6 foot 8 inch giant after 26 seconds of the first round." This was Louie's first fight as a member of the SLI boxing team. It took place on the Loyola campus and was part of a
6 to 2 team win by the SLI team, which had also scored team victories over Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Louie's addition to the team created a lot of excitement among the SLI boxing fans, as before he became eligible the team did not have a true heavyweight. At the time of these happenings I was a second semester freshman living in one of the "farm dormitories" on Lewis Street.
The next scheduled match for the undefeated SLI team was in Baton Rouge with L.S.U., which was the reigning Southeastern Conference champion. That created a lot of excitement for the SLI fans. And as an added bonus, the area newspapers played up the upcoming match between Louie and "Peg" Kendrick, LSU heavy weight who reportedly had bested Louie in high school matches. I wanted to see that match so bad, but my only option at the time was to cut classes and hitch hike to Baton Rouge, an option I rejected. But then, because so many students felt the way I did, someone in the administration engaged some of the commuter buses that transported students from neighboring parishes to take busloads of SLI students to the LSU campus for the fights. So I got to see Louie, in his second fight for SLI, square up against Kendrick in the final fight of the night. The team issue was no longer in doubt, as SLI was leading 4 1/2 to 2 1/2 when the two heavy weights went at each other. It was action packed from bell to bell for all three rounds, and when it was over, the referee called it a draw. The final team score was SLI 5, LSU 3.
It was a happy bunch of SLI fans that loaded on the bus to take us back to Lafayette. However, shortly after we left Baton Rouge, there was a slight mood change. One of the tires on the bus blew out and had to be replaced with the spare tire that the bus carried. Then a few miles later, another tire blew out. This time there was no spare tire, so we were asked to disembark and walk a couple of miles to an establishment where we could wait in safety. We did not make it back to Lafayette until well after daybreak. But just to have seen the magnificent battle put up by Louie Campbell against his very accomplished adversary made up
many times over for the inconvenience and discomfort we experienced on the bus.
Louie won the vast majority of his fights, most of them by knockouts. He fought Kendrick one more time, and this one he lost. But they both went to the NCAA national tournament held at Penn State University at the end of the season. They wound up in different brackets and it was hoped by many that they would meet in the title match for the national championship. But that was not to be. Kendrick was defeated in his semi-final match. Louie made it all the way and had the satisfaction in the final match of knocking out the fighter
who had defeated Kendrick. Louie was the first SLI boxer to win a national championship. And what a great champion he was!
June 19, 2008
* * * * * * * * *
Ed, I wonder how many readers of Bruce Brown's interesting comments re Louie Campbell grasped the significance of Louie being whipped by his trainer, who was an upper classman, every day until Thanksgiving.
I know exactly what he was talking about. When Louie and I were freshmen, the hazing of freshmen was allowed and was a huge student activity and lasted from day one when the freshmen reported until Thanksgiving Day!
On my first day, my parents drove me to Farm Dormitory No. 2. The minute our car stopped, about five guys who were standing in the yard rushed over to our car and asked if I was a freshman. When I said yes, they said to get out of the car with my suitcase and other stuff and they would take me to my room. I did as I was told, and they escorted me to the dormitory entrance. As I walked I looked back at my parents and saw that my mother was crying as our car was slowly moving away.
Instead of taking me to my room the guys took me to the boiler room where the boiler that furnished steam heat to the dormitory rooms was located. There was a chair in the middle of the room and there was hair all over the floor.
They asked me what my name was, and I told them, Paul Bergeron. I was informed that from that point until Thanksgiving, my name was Slimey Dog Bergeron and not to forget it. They sat me on the chair and cut off all my hair with a manual hair clipper and charged me four bits for the hair cut. (Haircuts were two bits in town).
Then they produced a red and white skull cap with the letters SLI on the front and sold that to me for four bits. (The skull caps sold for a dime at Morgan and Lindsay's). I was told that I had to wear that "beanie" at all times when I wasn't sleeping. I was also told that I was under the authority of any and every upper classman. I was subject to being whipped by upper classmen, I had to comply when directed to shine shoes, make beds, sweep floors, run errands, sing songs, etc. etc. I had to address every upper classman as "mister" and say "sir" at all times. When they were done giving me instructions, one of them said, "What is your name again?" I replied "Paul Bergeron". All five of them started screaming at me: Didn't they tell me that my name was Slimey Dog? Was I some kind of wise guy? Etc. Etc. One of them said to get out of the chair and assume position. I asked what he meant. He said to bend over. I did. Pow! Pow! Pow! A broom landed on my butt, medium hard. Then they escorted me to my room and left me. I must admit that at that moment I had some serious doubts about SLI and
some of the savages who were posing as students.
But compared to the other freshmen at the farm dormitories, I was extremely, extremely fortunate.
Normally all freshmen were housed in Dormitory No. 3. But that year, there wasn't room in No. 3 for all the freshmen, so a fellow named Ewing and I were assigned to No. 2. My roommates were three upperclassmen -- all top of the line. Fulton "Red" Bacon, Reddell; Stephen "Steve" Bollich,
Eunice; Daniel "Wes" Ritchey, Ragley. They took care of me and kept the wolves away. I did have to make some beds and sweep some floors and shine some shoes, but I was spared the whippings that some of the others had to endure. Dormitory No. 3 was raided nightly by upperclassmen who wanted to have a little fun tormenting the freshmen they could catch. Most of the whippings I received were encountered when going to the dining hall for supper. There some upperclassmen formed a belt line, and the freshmen had to run through it and got spanked by the belts that were being swung at them. Once through the belt line we had to stand as a group and sing Beer Barrel Polka and Working on the Railroad over and over again until admitted to the dining room.
All of the hazing I saw or experienced was done in fun. I never saw brutality of any kind. Of course, all freshmen were happy when Thanksgiving finally arrived, but we looked back and were happy that we had had the experience.
One note of sorrow. Two of my roommates as a freshman, Lt. Stephen Bollich and Capt. Daniel Ritchey were killed during World War II, Steve in Italy and Wes in the Pacific.
July 13, 2008
* * * *
Ed, I enjoyed Bruce Brown's comments. I witnessed the airplane rides episode as I was in one of the lines. The airplane was a Piper Cub that had been towed to the campus to get male students to sign up for the Civilian Air Patrol, so they could learn to fly an airplane. World War II had just started in Europe, on September 1, 1939, and I suppose that the Military leaders were looking ahead and seeing our eventual involvement. (The draft was started a few months later).
Someone came to our part of the line and warned us not to get suckered in, so I didn't go close to the airplane. Some time later the "Vermilion" came out and lo and behold the paper's cartoonist, a fellow named Rabb, had drawn a cartoon of Louie selling the rides to the freshmen. In my naivety I was sure that the roof would fall in on Louie, and he in turn would bounce on Rabb. But I am happy to say that nothing happened.
* * * * *
About Paul Bergeron
During the two plus years that I attended SLI, starting in September 1939, I was privileged to be able to attend most (if not all) of the home athletic events, as they were held within a short walk of my farm dormitory room --- the basketball games and boxing matches at Earl K. Long gym; the football games and track and field meets at McNaspy Stadium; and the baseball games at the baseball field adjacent to McNaspy Stadium. I enjoyed the competition and loved the school spirit exuded by the student body.
In November of 1941 I resigned from school during my junior year to take a college level job with an oil company, a scenario not uncommon during the Great Depression years, when a student's adverse financial situation often dictated the prudency of a job and salary over a continued struggle to attain a college degree. During the ensuing three decades family and job responsibilities limited my attendance at the school athletic functions, but I never lost interest and kept abreast of progress through the sports media. One of my great moments was when the athletic teams' nickname was changed from "Bulldogs" to "Ragin Cajuns".
My wife, Audrey, and I are extremely proud that all four of our children graduated from USL. Also, our three daughters married USL graduates. Our son's wife was educated in Mississippi, but she redeemed herself by teaching psychology at USL for a couple of years. Also, Audrey attended USL for two years while some of our children were also students. I believe that all this makes us a rock solid University of Louisiana family.
As for my employment career, my last 34 years of active employment were as a member of the management team at the Jefferson Island salt mine. I was there on November 20, 1980 when the drilling rig accidentally penetrated the roof of the underground salt mine, causing the water of Lake Peigneur to drain into the mine, flooding it forever. If you ever watch the video of the disaster being shown at Live Oaks/Rip Van Winkle Gardens, I am the old guy who describes in Cajun French what transpired on that fateful day.
I retired from the salt company in October 1986 at the age of 64, and Audrey and I have attended University of Louisiana football games and mens' basketball games pretty regularly. In 2003 and 2004 I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Ed Dugas and submitted information for the athletic network about athletic events and personnel researched from the University year books covering the years when I was in school.
Today, a step away from being 86, I am looking forward to the football season, and our season tickets are on order.
June 23, 2008
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Prides of Acadiana by Bruce Brown (1980) is a copyrighted enterprise.
Louie Campbell: The Gentle Giant
When Louie Campbell arrived at Southwestern Louisiana Institute in 1939 from the rural town of Choudrant in northern Louisiana, he was one of the many in the Bayou State with barely a cent to his name.
He was so poor that when a coach at SLI gave him eight dollars to get back to his home town after a visit, Campbell instead hitchhiked back northward and saved the money.
When he got back he bought a part of tailored pants, making a grand total of two pairs of pants to his name.
Then when the gentle giant got to campus to play football and box, the never-ending process of making ends meet continued.
"The Great Depression hit hard in north Louisiana," Campbell recalled. "We didn't eat but one meal a day, so I boxed and played football on one meal a day."
"I remember in my freshman year at SLI, my trainer and tutor, Bernie Watts, and I were working in old Foster Hall on campus for twenty-five cents an hour. We would get up enough money to go to the show, and I recall you could get a quarter of a pie for a nickel.
"One hight I got coconut and Merle chocolate. I asked him if he would let me have a bit of his pie and he said he would. Well, I ate it all, and he told me he would whip me for that.
"I laughed and told him 'You aren't big enough,' because I was larger than he was. He whipped me, though, every day until Thanksgiving that year."
This was the man with the same haymaker left hook and ring sense who later became the national collegiate champion and went on to further glory in the armed services during World War II, who was whipped every day until Thanksgiving.
Louie Campbell, you see, was truly a gentle giant - a boxer more than a fighter, a technician more than a brawler, one who became legend around SLI as much for his pranks as for his power on the field and in the ring.
Many recall the day when freshmen were lined up as far as the eye could see in the old quadrangle, wating to register for classes. A pilot had left Louie in charge of his aircraft for a time, and Campbell wasted no time in selling plane rides to freshmen for 50 cents a ride.
Needless to say, few freshmen flew.
Campbell's exploits were detailed in an on-campus cartoon, in which he sat at a desk that featured a sign saying "Only Frosh (And Suckers) Need Apply."
Such schemes did not end there.
"We would do many things to pick up extra cash," he said. "We sold catalogues. We charged one and two dollars for a haircut for all the freshmen, and then we'd sell them the caps to wear."
"Of course, we also set up a protection bureau."
The perspective of survival is one learned well by Campbell in his days at Choudrant, and one learned well by others of his generation, as well.
And Campbell thinks man of the same values could be taught today if the high schools and colleges would revitalize his favorite sport, boxing.
"Boxing is a wonderful sport when it's run right," he cautioned. "I think high schools and colleges are missing out by not including it in their programs."
"With twelve to sixteen ounce gloves and with headgear to protect them, boys learn boxing as a test of skill, not as a means of hurting someone else. And it also teaches them that they will have to fight for everything they get in life."
Along those lines, says Campbell, black athletes are more likely to engage in boxing than white athletes.
"For years, blacks felt like they were behind the eight-ball," he noted. "That's not so much true anymore, but succeeding in boxing is one way of earning respect."
"Jack Johnson, and fighters like that, wanted to be somebody, and the way they could do that was to box. Look at Leon Spinks and Sugar Ray Leonard today - they have a great deal of respect because of their abilities."
"The white athlete has the feeling he is 'up' instead of down in the society, and he wouldn't consider going out there to fight."
"Blacks put more into the sport to earn the respect they want in the society."
Why did boxing, for black or white, decline at the amateur level until recent Olympic successes spurred it once more?
"The doctors said that boxing was harmful to the boys," Campbell said. "That led to the decline of the sport. But with proper gloves and headgear, and if you never overmatch a boy, that isn't true."
"Any boxing I was ever involved with, the referee always stopped the fight when one fighter got a cut. It was a contest of skill."
"The term 'punchdrunk' was used, but I never knew many people at SLI who were that way. The only one we had, we called him 'Punchy,' was that way before he was a boxer. He's now a colonel in the Air Force, so he couldn't have been too badly affected."
Campbell would like to see the Acadiana area that now serves as his home develop boxing and help to develop Olympic caliber athletes.
"The French people love fighting," he said. "And they would support it. You could support a boxing program and other programs with the crowds you would get today."
But it is not only in his beloved boxing where Campbell wants improved development of the area's athletes, as his thirty years of service as a physical education instructor in Lafayette Parish would indicate.
"We should make a swim complex out of the old Lafayette Elementary," he suggested. "We could have champions, with coaches that would teach, and we could put Lafayette on the map. It would bring people in, too."
Campbell brought people into Lafayette while a gym teacher at Lafayette Elementary (which has been the city's high school and a junior high). His obstacle course was viewed nationwide as a model for other schools to follow in the development of boys and girls alike for overall physical fitness.
"I had the best physical fitness course in the country," he stated. "Other coaches came in to look at it. My tumbling and box tumbling teams were good. It's amazing what can be done with airplane innertubes and boxes, and the ability to make children want to do something."
"If they can learn instruction, have dedication, and have faith, they can literally do anything, I believe that."
Big Louie Campbell did just about everything one could ask in his athletic career, except one thing he wanted badly to do as he grew up in Choudrant.
"I wanted to be heavyweight champion of the world," he said wishfully. "Of course, Joe Louis was great at that time, and I would have had a lot to learn, but I held my own with fighters like Bill Poland in the service before I hurt my neck playing football while stationed at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station."
"But it's now what you could have done, but what you did do, that counts."
What Campbell did do was come storming out of Choudrant as a 210-pound fullback that usually would fall down only if four or five opponents grabbed hold and hung on for dear life.
Converted to tackle at SLI, and a guard in the service teams he played for, Big Louie started for every team he played on. "I held my own," he nodded.
"I played with several pros in the service - George McAfee of Duke and the Chicago Bears, and Jim Butz of Notre Dame. There were some fine players on those service teams, and I was first team."
Unfortunately, it was in football where he hurt his neck and curtailed a promising ring career that had newspapers buzzing in the towns he visited. A bad-necked fighter facing heavyweight punches is not a likely success.
The punches sometimes were rough enough for a healthy Campbell.
In high school, his prep coach told him to take is easy on Popeye Gulledge of Farmerville one day, so that Gulledge would later come down and box at Choudrant.
But a funny thing hapened on the way to taking it lightly - Gulledge floored Campbell - and then met with Campbell's knockout punch as a result. The two had three fights by Campbell's recollection, and the pile-driving left hook of Campbell's was decisive all three times for knockouts.
A similar circumstance occurred while Campbell was at SLI and boxing against a 6-8 fighter from Loyola. The opponent did not know things were suppose to be easy and, after drawing Campbell's attention, he too ended up on the canvas.
"I can still remember a friend of mine in the corner yelling 'Timber!' as that tall ole boy fell," smiled Campbell. This time, it was the feared left hook in the first round that finished off his foe.
Campbell became a celebrity on a campus where everyone knew everyone else, the leader of a string of teams from 1940-42 that could take on anyone.
"We could have boxed with anyone, any team in the country," he said proudly. "We could have taken two at once."
Campbell said he "always kept in shape. I stayed in training, and kept up my good motion in the ring."
The teams would run down the Abbeville Highway (Johnston Street) to South College Road, run from there to Pinhook, to St. Mary Street, and back to the gym on campus - "about three miles," according to Campbell. "Sometimes we would run more if there was a special match coming up."
Campbell remembers winning the National Collegiate Tournament in 1941, when he captured the nation's collegiate heavyweight crown by defeating former Navy champ Gates Kimbell in the finals.
Again, that lethal left hook struck for a knockdown in the second round and two more knockdowns later in the fight, as ________________________________________________________________________________________
"I learned something from every fight" - Louie Campbell.
Campbell emerged the best fighter in the tournament heavyweight class.
But he also recalls losing to LSU's Peg Kendricks in January of 1942. "Peg was 6-3 or 6-4 and could really punch," Campbell said. "I wanted to knock him out , and figured I would if I drew his protection arm down with jabs then hit him with my left hook."
"With about 15 seconds to go in the second round he caught me with a right hand right over the heart that sent me through the ropes. I can still remember grabbing the ropes. I was weak when I went back in."
"He could have hurt me at that time, because it was obvious I was stunned. But he was not a mean man, and was a friend of mine. He took it easy on me."
Another loss that winter was to Red Cameron at the University of Miami, and then came the draft orders and Campbell's decision to join the Marines. There, he got solid experience with established fighters, played some football, taught judo, learned to build obstacle courses and generally stayed a household name in amateur boxing until returning to SLI, for a degree that would prepare him for years of coaching.
Interestingly enough, Campbell recalls as much about his losses as his many triumphs, including his national collegiate triumph, saying ,"I learned something from every fight."
There was something ingrained in the big man, though, that marked his career in athletics. "I never wanted to hurt someone," he said, "I just wanted to whip 'em."
Prides of Acadiana by Bruce Brown (1980) is a copyrighted enterprise.
Posted by Ed Dugas June 16, 2008
|Boxing:|| 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942|
|Football:|| 1940, 1941|
Send this Page to a Friend!