Austin looks to honor ‘The Austin Atom’

Published 2:13 pm Saturday, September 3, 2011

Austin mayor spearheads campaign for new gravestone

By Jason Schoonover

AUSTIN — Austin is more than half way to honoring one of its favorite sons.

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Mayor Tom Stiehm said he’s raised about $1,300 to buy a new gravestone for Jackie Graves, a 1940s featherweight fighter nicknamed “The Austin Atom” who was one of the top boxers of the era.

Jackie Graves

Stiehm is spearheading a fundraiser to get Graves a headstone, and he’s looking to raise about $2,000.

“We’re getting there, and it’s come along probably better than I had thought,” Stiehm said.

Jeff Anderson, of Anderson Memorials in Austin, said his business will cover part of the cost.

Donations were good early on, and one person even donated $500.

“That was really terrific,” Stiehm said. “One more of those would put us over the top, I think.”

While donations have slowed since, Stiehm is still hopeful to he can have a new headstone in place before winter, and he’s hoping more people will come forward with donations.

Stiehm said it’s important to honor cherished Austin residents like Graves. He talked about putting up plaques each year to honor Austin residents who made an impact.

“Before that, we got to get him a grave stone,” he said.

If enough money doesn’t come in, Stiehm plans to start holding fundraisers.

To make a donation or for more information, call Stiehm at 507-437-4092. Checks can also be sent to Anderson Memorial and are to be made out to “Jackie Graves Memorial c/o Tom Stiehm.”

Boxer will soon be inducted to Minn. Boxing Hall of Fame

By Adam Harringa

Boxer Jackie Graves

AUSTIN — Jackie Graves will soon be immortalized in the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame.

Graves — a 1940s featherweight fighter from Austin nicknamed “The Austin Atom” — is one of eight boxing elites being inducted into the hall of fame’s class of 2011.

“We’re very proud to announce our Class of 2011,” said boxing historian, Jake Wegner, who serves as the group’s President.

The induction banquet will be held Oct. 11 at The Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power St. in Minneapolis. Tickets are $50 and include the meal and induction ceremonies. Social hour starts at 5:30 p.m. with the meal and festivities beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Wegner at

Graves, who lived in Austin most of his life, was one of the most feared punchers in featherweight history, according to Wegner. He was once ranked No. 2 in the world behind Willie Pep.

Joining Graves will be 1970s heavyweight contender Duane Bobick, “The Rice Street Rocker” Mike Evgen, a former IBO Jr. Welterweight Champion, “The Harp” Mike O’Dowd, Johnny “Kewpie” Ertle, Charley Kemmick, George Barton, who holds the world record for most bouts officiated in a career at just over 12,000, and long-time trainer/manager Emmett Weller.

Ticket sales have been brisk, and Wegner said they are expecting a crowd of more than 400 people.