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Robert G. Claus, Golden Gloves winner, welterweight boxer, trained racehorses Sept. 25, 1920 -- Jan. 19, 2007

Rejected by the Army during World War II because of a bad knee, Robert G. Claus returned to another kind of fighting where he had found success.

Born in Buffalo, "Bobby Claus" was a welterweight boxer who won a district Golden Gloves title in 1939, in the former Broadway Auditorium that now houses the city's public works equipment and supplies. He went on to be the Eastern Golden Gloves runner-up in New York City.

Mr. Claus, 86, died Jan. 19 in Erie County Home and Infirmary, Alden, after a lengthy illness. Services were private.

Before the war, Mr. Claus shattered his left knee when he fell from a freight train he hopped to get to the West Coast, where he planned to continue boxing.

Then came World War II, and Mr. Claus spent five months in the Army at forts Bragg and Knox before he was discharged because of his knee. Returning to Buffalo, he was determined to fight for something else.

"So I start getting in shape to fight and show Uncle Sam that he made a mistake in releasing me," Mr. Claus told a newspaper reporter in 1943.

His boxing career included losses at the hands of world champions: Tony Zale and Rocky Graciano.

He was inducted in 2001 into the Buffalo Veterans Boxer Association Ring 44 Hall of Fame.

After he was finished with boxing, Mr. Claus drove a taxi for City Service Co.

And, he turned his love of animals -- especially dogs and horses -- into a four-decade career as a horse trainer and harness driver.

He bought his first horse in the late 1950s, and trained horses that ran at Buffalo Raceway. He also competed as a driver at Batavia Downs in the 1980s, and was a member of the U.S. Trotting Association.


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