Skaar apologizes for comment in 1966 Albert Lea state wrestling team championship article in Sunday’s edition

Published 11:00 pm Monday, May 17, 2010

I need to clear up a misunderstanding which I created concerning the sports article about the 1966 Albert Lea state championship wrestling team.

The misunderstanding relates to a comment I made during an interview with Nick Gerhardt about Ken Stenzel. Specifically, I mentioned that Ken was a member of the Hell’s Angels. That was a reckless and stupid comment on my part based on hearsay (I may even have Ken confused with someone else). The first thought I had after making the comment was that I should not have made it during an interview with the press. I compounded my stupidity by not pointing out to Nick that I had no evidence and that I emphatically would prefer that he not mention it in the article.

My only justification is that I intended the comment as a compliment. My impression of the Hell’s Angels is that they were a bunch of rugged, carefree individualists, who marched to a different drummer during turbulent times.

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My recollection of Kenny from 50 years back when I was a senior in high school and he was a sophomore is just that: Kenny was always smiling, always happy, and tougher than nails. He was friendly, considerate, and possessed none of the negative qualities associated with the Hell’s Angels.

He did not join the Hell’s Angels (as I have recently discovered) — he joined the United States Marines and served his country during the Vietnam war era.

He survived the war and went on to be a credit to his family, his community, and his country. This record is exactly what I would expect from the Kenny I knew so long ago. I deeply regret any confusion I may have caused. I assume full responsibility for the mistake. The purpose of these articles is to pay tribute to our championship teams, not to cast aspersions on anyone’s character. If anyone’s character has been compromised as a result of my comments, it is not Kenny’s, but mine.

Neal Skaar