Were it not for a love of coaching youngsters and WWI, Matty Matthews might have become a major league baseball player. He played in the minor leagues for several years, and some say he was big league material. Matthews was born on Feb. 14, 1889. He began boxing in the Army in 1917. After giving up baseball and his work as a stock broker telegrapher, he became the boxing, baseball and track coach at The Citadel in 1926. He remained on the job for 47 years. As a boxing coach, his team won the Southern Conference title in 1941 and 1948. During his Citadel career, he coached Golden Gloves teams as well. Several of his protégés are members of the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame, including Burke Watson, Gunther Ohlandt, Jr., Louis Lempesis, and Harry Hitopoulos. He served as Charleston Boxing Commissioner for a time was known and loved for the advice and guidance he was always willing to share with young athletes. His boxers were known throughout the South as “Mattymen.” They knew little of his baseball prowess. They remember him as the best coach who ever showed a kid how to feint with his left.
He and his wife Elsa reared four children. Matty died of a heart attack in 1975 as he worked at one of his hobbies, gardening.