STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — A boxing legend in the city of Stockton died earlier this week.
Frank Dobales Sr. founded the city’s Police Youth Activities program more than six decades ago, and in his lifetime helped mentor thousands of kids.
“He just wanted his kids to prosper in life,” Frank Dobales Jr. told FOX40. “He not only helped us, but he helped other people.”
In pictures, in shared memories, over the many decades, Frank Dobales Sr. is remembered as a boxing legend.
“Anything in boxing in this area, for many decades, he had his hands in it. He was Mr. Boxing in Stockton,” said Steve Salas, a head volunteer trainer at the Stockton PYA Boxing Gym.
But more than anything, the 91-year-old Firebaugh-born, Stockton-raised man had been a force that moved young lives.
“If I would not have been enrolled in this boxing program, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” said Deputy Alex Serrano from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
Dobales’ son, Frank Jr., said his father had dementia and recently fell ill with pneumonia. He had also tested positive for COVID-19, and died Tuesday.
“He was the foundation of our family,” Frank Jr. said.
As a volunteer trainer, Dobales Sr. dedicated his life to instill a fighting spirit among his many students.
“Boxing is an individual sport, but he was all about a sense of teamwork and everybody supporting each other,” remembered Chief Jones of the Stockton Police Department.
“He would always joke around when the kid was having a hard time, be like, ‘This ain’t fat city; this is tough city,’” Salas said.
“’Fight through it, keep pushing yourself… just step it up,’” Serrano recalled.
Dobales Sr. will be sorely missed, but his lessons live on through his gym and beyond the boxing ring.
“Not just that he helped me, he helped my brothers as well. Not just us, but a lot of kids in Stockton,” Serrano said.
Dobales Sr. trained a number of professional boxers, but the people who knew him say his goal was to have a positive impact on his students.