Gary 'Chubs' Pliner was area's boxing king

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John Barry
Wednesday, June 4, 2014

JANESVILLE--Chubs was a champion to many.

A friend to all.

Gary ‘Chubs’ Pliner died last Friday at the age of 73. His legacy lives on.

 Pliner moved to Janesville in 1980 and resurrected the city’s youth boxing club. His motto was a simple one—find me a vacant building, and I’ll find you a place to train.

When the YMCA ended its boxing program in the early 1980s, Pliner stepped in and opened a gym on Milwaukee Street. Pliner later set up training facilities at a site on Wall Street that now houses the city’s police department, along with the old Red Wing Shoes building on South Jackson Street.

Pliner trained many champions throughout his illustrious career, including his son, Scott, but Frank LaBuguen was his prized pupil.

LaBuguen fought over 90 amateur bouts and was 12-1 as a professional fighter. He took over Chubs’ Boxing Gym eight years ago, along with Tony Dubanowich, so Pliner could focus on the sport at the state and national level.

“I lost a great friend,” LaBuguen said. “He taught me everything I know about boxing and set the tone for how I do things.

“And to Chubs, nothing was more important than preparation. Hard work and conditioning were important, but how you prepared for each and every fight was the difference between winning and losing.”

Pliner’s love for boxing was evident outside the ring. He was a great promoter of the sport on a local, statewide and nationwide basis. He served as past president of USA Boxing Wisconsin and Future Olympians Boxing Association.

Dubanowich, who won two state Golden Gloves titles training under Pliner, said his methods were tough but fair.

“Chubs liked to throw his guys to the wolves,” Dubanowich said with a smile. “We didn’t have many fights that he knew going in were going to be easy. He always wanted us to go against the best.

“He was very hands on and a coach that really pushed you. And that’s why so many of his fighters had success.”

Although Gary Pliner stepped away from the local boxing scene eight years ago, Chubs Boxing Gym continues to have an impact.

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