I woke up at six A.M. on Wednesday because I was so excited for the fights. In case you don’t know me, this never happens, and just proves how much I love boxing.
Since the awake-ness seemed to be sticking, I headed over to scope out the weigh-in at the venue. Bleary boxers sat in the stands waiting for their names to be called so they could step on the official scale. All our kids made weight fine. Out on the sunny balcony I ogled the odd, enormous ship things that I don’t understand what they are.
I knew the name Gary Russell sounded familiar. It turns out his son, Gary Allen Russell, Jr., was a Beijing Olympian.
“He has a million sons, and they all box, and they’re all named Gary Russell,” said Sosa.
Christopher "B Hopp" Colbert is my favorite kid at our gym. He's 95 pounds of pure trouble. Like his nicknamesake, little B Hopp fights with great intelligence and uses the chip on his shoulder to good effect. He had an easy time with Andrew Strode of Denver, winning 21-12.
Khalid Twaiti lost a heartbreakingly close 15-14 decision to Brandon Kapner of Gravette, Arkansas. I hope Khalid sticks with it. He was the classier boxer, but he fought in spurts and got hit with too many clean, scoring blows. Everyone told him afterward that he got robbed, but it's hard to subjectively judge matches that are computer scored.
"There are no losers in amateur boxing. There's always a boxer who won and a boxer who got ripped off," quipped Angel Villarreal, USA Boxing's Chief of Officials.
Judges do screw up, but you should never tell a kid he was robbed when he wasn't. All fighters have a strong sense of justice that will eventually be crushed by the world. Why disillusion them prematurely? Far better to explain the nature of the scoring system so they can learn to fight smarter.
In the amateurs, judges award a point when you connect with the knuckle portion of your glove within the legal scoring area, which is the front and sides of the head and torso. An imaginary line through the navel marks the boundary for low blows. The blow must land cleanly (i.e., not deflected off the opponent's guard) and have the weight of the shoulder behind it. You can't be infringing any rules and the judge has to see the shot land. These are pretty stringent guidelines, so not everything that lands actually scores.
Here is Christian “Kike” Bermudez between rounds, receiving instructions from his trainer/uncle Benny Roman. Kike has a great short hook and looked sharp decisioning Geno Jones, Jr. of Detroit, 13-8.
I’d been looking forward to the debut of our 138-pounder, Robert “Bob-o” Jiles, Jr., because I like the vibe of his father/trainer, an austere personage whose tight ship in the gym has earned him the nickname Sergeant Slaughter. Neither father nor son has any discernible body fat.
“All I eat is fast food,” Bob-o told me. Oy vey!
He's a slick southpaw with great reflexes and genuine ring charisma, and he outclassed his Oklahoman opponent 13-6. Most fighters bounce, but Bob-o stands completely still, waiting to strike. Sometimes he waits too much. Both Bob-o and B Hopp have something special about them, a kind of X factor that hints they may grow into greatness, like puppies with big paws.
Having attended a high school that was perennially last in the athletic standings, it's fun to feel like I am part of an indomitable teenage team. Region 1 went 7-1 in the second day's action. The evening session saw wins by four more of our fighters. Bruce "Shu Shu" Carrington (101 lbs) dec. Adrian Servin, 21-12; Shakur Stevenson (110 lbs) dec. Walter Smith, III, 9-8; Edgar Berlanga (132 lbs) dec. Joshua Pritzl-Finger, 10-4; and Junior "Sugar Boy" Younan (189 lbs) dec. Dakota Alvey, 17-7.
Shu Shu was late to get his hands wrapped, and Sosa was getting mad. I told him he should chant "OM." He complied, jokingly joining his middle fingers and thumbs to make a yogic hand symbol.
This is the mudra of expansion. Its element is space, and its color is blue. Per Naran Balakumar, "It brings abundance in your life...you will become a good judge of life's events. The teacher in you will be activated."