Galesburg community remembers the legacy of local boxing icon and youth advocate

"Carlos Duncan's legacy will definitely be all the lives that he’s changed in the community and throughout the United States," said Rich Norton.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 5:50 PM CDT
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GALESBURG, Ill. (KWQC) - Carlos Duncan was a leader, mentor, and father figure to generations of young people.

“His legacy will definitely be all the lives that he’s changed in the community and throughout the United States,” said Rich Norton, Galesburg Youth Athletic Club’s board president and coach.

Duncan’s name is known and respected across Galesburg, and his presence is felt inside the Galesburg Youth Athletic Club.

“The thing is, [Duncan] would connect with everybody. Kids would come in and kind of be in their shell, and he’ll just keep talking to them until they open up because they know he cares,” Norton said.

Duncan was involved in boxing for more than 50 years and started the local Rock Steady Boxing chapter in Galesburg, a therapy program that helps people with Parkinson’s disease work on their mobility, motor skills, and voice.

“Carlos meant a lot to me. He was an encourager, and he was full of love for people,” said Karen Kleine, a Rock Steady Boxing participant. “Everybody needs to know a Carlos.”

Those who knew Duncan said his impact went far beyond the boxing ring.

“His whole thing was that the kids needed something to do to keep them off the gangs, the drugs, and teenage pregnancies,” said John Peterson, a Rock Steady Boxing participant. “He was very involved in that, and that was Carlos in a nutshell.”

Julieann Guiste said she feels lucky to have been mentored by Duncan.

“I always remember what Carlos said to me. It’s part of the reason I am the person I am today,” Guiste said. “A lot of my coaching skills and abilities I see Carlos in. He was like my second father but I called him first.”

George Carter Jr. met Duncan 28 years ago and said it is his goal to continue Duncan’s mission of providing mentorship and a healthy environment for people of all ages.

“It’s an alternative to drugs and violence, so it’s not just come here and we are going to put you in the ring,” Carter Jr. said. “We are trying to build kids to be better kids, and better people, so that when they get to high school they have better self-esteem.”

Norton said the Galesburg Youth Athletic Club plans to create a memorial in Duncan’s honor and place it in Park Plaza near the athletic club.

Carlos Duncan was 80 years old.

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