Part of a series on nine local athletes being inducted into the African American Legacy Project’s Sports Legends Hall of Fame.
Herbert Mickles retired from the Toledo Police Athletic League in August, 2017, but he doesn’t want to sit around.
Mr. Mickles, who will turn 86 on June 20, would much rather do something positive. It’s in his nature — he worked as a baseball and boxing coach with the Police Athletic League for almost 40 years, and he still volunteers in the community.
“Dad’s not going to give up on a kid,” Valerie Hughley said over the phone. Ms. Hughley is Mr. Mickles’ daughter.
On Saturday, Mr. Mickles, a former champion boxer, will be honored for his athletic career as well as for his work in the community when he is inducted into the African American Legacy Project’s Sports Legends Hall of Fame with eight other local athletes. The event will start at 2 p.m., and it is free and open to the public.
Before he became a coach, Mr. Mickles was a top-level boxer, ending his career as a four-time Golden Gloves winner in the Toledo area. He also won the Golden Glove’s national Tournament of Champions in 1953, and he won an international title during that same year. While he was in the Army, he was an All-Service champion as well as the European champion.
And when that career was over, his goal in life — to make his mother proud by doing good things — didn’t end, he simply changed the method to that result. He began coaching in 1986, and he started working with PAL in 1988, when it was called the Toledo Police League.
Mr. Mickles has always valued working with kids one-on-one, so he can relate to each of their different attitudes. Still, he wants each kid to understand his message, equating it to a team where everyone has a role to play and a job to do. He wants kids to make their parents proud and do good things.
When someone comes up to him and says that one of the kids he works with is a good kid, he’s happy to hear that.
“If they doing good, that’s all I want,” Mr. Mickles said in a phone interview.
Kim Darrington, a PAL police officer, started working with the organization in 2015. She has known Ms. Hughley for many years, but she only worked with Mr. Mickles for two years, and in that short time, she saw how dedicated he was to helping kids.
Ms. Darrington said Mr. Mickles showed up every day, ready and willing to work with the kids. As he showed up every day, he commanded respect — and the kids listened. They looked up to him.
Though Mr. Mickles no longer works with PAL, Ms. Darrington commends his desire to stay active.
“He’s a true inspiration,” she said in a phone interview. “He always wanted to see [the kids] do well. … He would do anything for these kids. He’s a good guy.”
As Mr. Mickles continues to volunteer in the community, he wants kids to have more activities to do. He wants them to stay out of trouble, stay off the streets and not be in gangs.
For Mr. Mickles, helping kids has been what he’s done throughout his life. He’s retired from PAL, but he’s not going to stop doing what he loves.
“If you got some good ideas, you can help people, you can help these kids,” he said.