This blue felt boxing robe was worn by Edwin “Red” Sabers of Dubuque. Born in 1920, Sabers was an exceptional athlete and a renowned boxer with the Catholic Youth Organization in the welterweight class. In 1939, when he was 18, he was one of 16 boxers invited to fight in preliminary matches before the Chicago CYO-Ireland international bouts. He defeated Red McCuskor of Chicago at Soldier Field, Chicago, in front of more than 35,000 people.
Boxing robes were developed to keep athletes warm throughout the introductions after their warmup to help prevent muscle strain, and were originally made of heavier material. This robe is made of wool. Over time, they evolved to the satin robes familiar to us today. Red’s boxing robe has his name written on the inside label and a CYO patch on the back of the robe.
The Catholic Youth Organization started in Chicago in 1930 and eventually became a worldwide organization. Beginning amid the Great Depression, CYO focused on providing community and activities, usually sports, for young men as an alternative to criminal activity. CYO stood out among youth organizations at the time in that it did not discriminate based on race, gender, or religion.
In addition to boxing, Red also competed in speed skating, golf, football, and fast pitch softball, and earned a place in the Dubuque Fast Pitch Hall of Fame. He served in the Pacific Theater in World War II, and passed away in 2020.