Herbert Kroeten always reported for duty when it came to boxing.
A skilled boxer in the ring, Kroeten fought in the Golden Gloves while serving his country in the Coast Guard.
Not allowing World War II to deter his dreams, Kroeten captured gold in 1943 and 1944 in the middleweight division.
Kroeten spent most of his early life in Minneapolis, and attended the University of Minnesota, where he joined the college boxing team. In 1941 and 1942, he took home the Minneapolis Golden Gloves titles.
His next move would take him to New York City, where his passion for boxing grew stronger.
Trying to rekindle the success he experienced in Minneapolis, Kroeten signed up for the New York City Golden Gloves. In 1943, the Coast Guard cadet took home the crown in the military division, victorious in the 165-pound serviceman’s weight class.
“The Golden Gloves had a separate servicemen division in 1943,” said Golden Gloves boxing historian Bill Farrell. “There were so many servicemen in New York. There were Navy men at the Navy yard. There were Army guys, Coast Guard guys, Air Force guys. They had their own division because there were so many of them from all over the country.”
The following year, Kroeten fought in the 175-pound open division. He would go on to win the Eastern regional tournament of champions, but would fall short in the intercity tournament.
The Golden Gloves tournament had a different format than the one that is used today.
“Before the intercity tournaments, they had regional champions. The regional champions would then go on to fight in the intercities. They had the tournament of champions for the eastern region,” explained Farrell. “Every newspaper had a Golden Gloves-type tournament. Everybody on the Eastern Seaboard would fight in the tournament of champions. The intercities tournaments were basically the national championship.”
After the conclusion of World War II, Kroeten earned a master’s degree in physical education. He would later receive a job offer from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to teach boxing and physical education. Going back to his Golden Gloves roots, he would invite kids from the city to come tour the facilities.
“The intercity team would be training, he would show them around. They would have exhibitions, it was great,” said Farrell.
Kroeten displayed his admiration for boxing by showing the young cadets the ropes. He ran the plebe boxing program, which is a required course that every student must take.
“He oversaw the program for 40 years. It is estimated that 3,600 West Point graduates learned how to box from Herb Kroeten. Generals, colonels and people who have run the United States army for generations all have Herb Kroeten stories to tell,” said Farrell.
Kroeten would also bring the cadets that he trained at West Point to compete in the Golden Gloves tournament. There is little doubt that Kroeten, who died at 84 in 2006, had a profound impact in all different levels of boxing. His contributions to the sport and his country are immeasurable.
“He not only left his mark on the Golden Gloves, but he left his mark on the military,” Farrell said. “The Hall of Fame is acknowledgement of his contribution to the Golden Gloves and the country.”