DELPHOS — Frank Garza is back home.
The internationally renowned boxing referee is attending the Delphos St. John’s Hall of Fame Inductions ceremonies that this year honored Dan Rupert (Class of 1961), Lonna (Grewe) Miller (class of 1979), Michael “Mike” Gallmeier (class of 1969) and Jeanne (Arnzen) Gulick (class of 1979).
At Garza’s table last Sunday are family and life-long friends and past classmates.
Even though he has traveled the world and then some, but Garza, who resides in Detroit, said coming back to Delphos is important because it laid the foundation for his future and he credits it for instilling him the values that have made him one of the best referees in the boxing world.
“I was glad I was able to grow up in Delphos because of the people and they instilled good work ethics in you and not only in school but your every day life,” Garza said. “When you look at the students that came out of Delphos as you are seeing here today at the hall of fame you see such a diversity of people that were successful after they left town.”
In April, Garza will be inducted in the National Hall of Fame in California.
Initially Garza was apprehensive about being inducted into any hall of fame because he wanted to be recognized for all the right right reasons.
“I had made a statement a couple of years ago to the international hall of fame that if I was ever inducted because I wouldn’t accept the honor and they said why and I said ‘I don’t think boxing officials should be inducted because the majority of the ones that are in got in due to political assignments and not on the merit on the jobs that they did.”
Garza, a model of integrity both in and out of the ring, soon got a call from the National Boxing Hall of Fame, stating that he was up for induction and was told secretly that there was no doubt that he would be voted in.
The individual who gave him the info said he had heard what Garza had said to the international hall and added that the Delphos product was being inducted on his merit and this was vitally important to him.
“I am really thrilled to death about this because it is my peers that put the word in and wanted me in there,” Garza said. “That really makes you feel good in the heart.”
The modest Garza said he did not get into this business for the recognition. True to his upbringing, Garza said it is always been about maintaining the integrity of the sport.
“And also I do this for what I consider doing this for my people and not only am I speaking about the Hispanic people but the regular Joe Blow on the street that gets up every morning, goes to work, punches in and works eight hours and goes home,” Garza said. “I am not someone that came through the collegiate ranks or something like that. I am just a regular guy that wanted to do this and put my mind to it and went through all the regular channels and did the best I could do and that is the message I want to get across. If you put your mind to it you can do it.”
Honesty and integrity were two things instilled in him growing up in Delphos by not only his family but by his friends and classmates.
“This is something I have taken growing up in Delphos, Ohio,” Garza said. Strong church background. “Good solid school. City pride. These are all things you take with you into the ring. This is the foundation that you carry into life and your future is developed in your childhood. I am very fortunate to not only have good parents but a good school system that I went to and I got a good education and excelled from there.”
Garza adds that in his travels he has met the full gambit of people, rich, poor, famous and not so famous and the rich tend to flaunt their wealth and he simply tells them “I am the richest person in the world.
“They will say how so and I will tell them I never went to bed without my mother and father telling me they loved me and that is a richness you can’t take away.”
With 35-plus years in the ring, Garza admits that his days are numbered as a boxing official but that does not mean he is going to retire from life. Garza wants to pass on his knowledge of being a referee as well as life lessons to the youth.
“My goal is to leave when I know I am ready without someone telling me it is time for me to leave,” Garza said. “Truthfully that will probably sooner than later and I want to leave on my own terms, and I have been preparing myself for this day and one of the ways I’ve been preparing for it is to mentor a lot of young officials.”
Garza added that when he sees younger referees he sees a little piece of himself.
This past year the World Boxing Council called on Garza to work with a university in Mexico and a computer based training program was developed for boxing officials which he hopes is released in the next year.
Garza also has his sights set on coming back to Delphos to talk to the current students in hopes of giving them some insight into what the future might hold and also to remind them to never forget where they came from, something Garza does not take for granted.
“I never want to forget where I came from,” Garza said. “It wasn’t all flowers and roses and candy and all that stuff here. There are a lot of things that happened like being bullied and all the things that generally happen to the generation today. It has existed for years and going to exist for years.”
Garza wants to impart on the students of today is how to make friends and how to be able to talk to others. Garza said he was bullied as a student and the first thing he did was tell his friends and then things were handled and not necessarily in a retaliatory or violent way.
“In that sense you learned how to work together and that transcended into your school work. If you were having a problem with an assignment or subject you didn’t go to your parents when I grew up you went to your friends,” Garza said. “We had self made study groups and learned how to communicate with your fellow students.”