The CBZ Newswire

Arizona Golden Gloves (2015)

by on Mar.15, 2015, under Guest Columnists

Female boxers at Arizona Golden Gloves

Female boxers at Arizona Golden Gloves

By Christopher James Shelton

The USA has diminished from one-time Olympics boxing powerhouse into being a world laughingstock by the 2012 Olympics. Golden Gloves champions include Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, Michael Spinks, Sonny Liston, Michael Carbajal, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Aaron Pryor, Thomas Hearns, Roy Jones Jr., Evander Holyfield and Muhammad Ali. The 2012 USA men’s Olympics boxing team won 0 gold, 0 silver and 0 bronze medals.

Golden Gloves nationally, and especially Phoenix, Arizona, was once an esteemed annual event. Areas like Chicago and New York City still care but the amateur tournament has been in decline for years. During the 1950’s there were no professional sports teams in Phoenix. There was only Arizona State University football and Golden Gloves tournament. From 1955-57, under head coach Dan Divine with Frank Kush as line coach the A.S.U. team compiled a 27-3-1 record. Golden Gloves was spread over several months covering the same fall season as the successful college football team. A photograph from Golden Gloves action was sure to make the front page of both local newspapers, Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette. The military played an important sponsorship role as the majority of Golden Gloves boxers were veterans. The population has grown from slightly over 100,000 in 1950 to more than 1,500,000 today. There is currently Phoenix professional sports teams including football, basketball (men and women), baseball and hockey. Arizona Golden Gloves has shrunk from several months to a long weekend.

The idea for my 15 years-old friend, Areti Sotiriou, boxing at Arizona Golden Gloves was seeing her at a Quinceanera last year. She was looking for something to be her specialty alone. She wanted to separate herself from family and friends. Areti is American of Greek-Mexican descent in a decidedly Latino family. She is constantly being hit by her male cousin, Tony, and after a bit punches him hard enough to temporarily back him off. Her punches sound painful. I mentioned boxing and Arizona Golden Gloves to her father, John, a high school friend. John asked Areti if she’d be interested in boxing with her reply, “I’d love to beat the shit out of girls, Dad.” I thought, “Now, that’s a boxer.” Areti had attended a couple of boxing events with her father and me, and seemed to enjoy herself. These were events sponsored or attended by Kelly Fenn, whose father was the “Godfather of Arizona Boxing.” Kelly loves Areti and brought her to the first row of a professional boxing event last year which left her speechless. Areti was finally able to utter, “You could see everything. You could see them sweat and bleed up close. The only thing I didn’t see that I wished was a knockout.”

During the Patriots-Seahawks classic Super Bowl party at the Sotiriou’s home, Areti and I spoke about boxing. Areti told me sadly, “Everyone in the family has talent except me.” I told her truthfully, “You have a great body and build for boxing. You are strong and physically fit. An Arizona Golden Gloves championship would be great for a future work resume and keep you busy besides school.” Her mother is a fiery, wonderful Mexican named Rose who worries that her daughter will be injured. Rose wears a ring that also substitutes as a cutting weapon “like many Latinas” and won’t hesitate to fight anyone (or “cut any bitch”) if angered. Her daughter, Larissa, is much the same. I told Areti, “Amateur boxing is not fighting. You would be trained in a sport. Fighting when angry isn’t a sport.” Areti excitedly told me, “I want to box. I want to box.”

Al Fenn is the Godfather of Arizona Boxing who managed the greatest professional heavyweight in Phoenix/Chandler history, Zora Folley, ranked #1 contender in 1958. Cus d’Amato would not allow his champion, Floyd Patterson to brawl with Folley for the title. There was the Gambino mob in Las Vegas. Al Fenn’s partner, Dave McKay was “whacked,” suffocated by a pillow in Los Angeles. The murder was never solved. Fenn was a dedicated Mormon on one hand, but didn’t want to be suffocated by a pillow on the other hand, so maneuvered his life between religious values and reality.

Arizona Golden Gloves began in 1950 with Al Fenn quickly establishing himself as best boxing trainer. Fenn officially took over Golden Gloves in 1969. The “ghosts” of former Arizona Golden Gloves champions are supposed to accompany the event. Names such as Ernie Castanada, WeeWee Coronado, Hilberto Quintano, Tito Carillo and so many others aren’t supposed to mean anything to the other forty-nine States, but hover, haunt and encourage future Arizona Golden Gloves bouts including yesterday, today and tomorrow.

John Sotiriou and I agreed to attend at least one day of the 2015 Arizona Golden Gloves tournament. His schedule as a nurse prevented attendance each day. Kelly Fenn, due to friendship, promised to allow us inside free and personally selected our table immediately behind the official judge. I could see the time machine for each round which makes viewing bouts more enjoyable. Kelly was closer, directly ringside, and told us about sometimes being showered in sweat from a punch.

One of the boxers on our radar today, via Kelly, was an unknown fighting his second bout, a 152-pounder out of the novice division, Roscoe Holifield of Keith Boxing. With no expectation he had fought for the first time the night before. No one had heard of him. He stole the show with a shocking 1st round knockout. Today, he is battling Adrian Aros of Neutral Corner for the championship.

Another intriguing boxer on everyone’s radar, although not necessarily for good reasons, is Charles Jeffrey who arrived “unattached” with no coach, trainer or sponsor. Kelly Fenn had double-checked the paperwork and believes it to be fraudulent. So the mystery as we waited: who is this guy? Someone hadn’t background checked him properly when okaying his participation and it was too late to do anything about it this moment. Kelly worried he was a “ringer” from another State who had studied Arizona boxing rules for some sort of manipulation. If there was anything wrong it would be unfair to the legitimate local contender, Eduardo Ayala of Madison. For now, they would fight today’s light-heavyweight open bout, but if Jeffrey won, Kelly hoped that I could research his background and report anything by Sunday.

Sponsors include Tecate beer, Streets Don’t Love You Back, Crescent Crown District, LIFE chiropractic, Quality Inn and others. If it were only John and I with no personal responsibility, I would be pounding down Tecates while non-stop munching nachos. Mexican beer, nachos and boxing; what else does a guy want in life? Areti’s presence, while needing vague cognizance of where I am and “who I am” forces me into soda pop on ice.

The show began with an announcement thanking American veterans and asking them to stand. My friend, John, shyly arose and received a round of applause with several others. Then we all stood for The Star Spangled Banner and it was time for boxing. For those not familiar with Golden Gloves terminology, a “novice” is a boxer who has fought five or less bouts while “open” is for boxers who have fought six or more bouts. Only three of today’s twelve bouts involve experienced boxers. As a boxing historian, I rarely write about people alive. It helps to be around young boxers to remind me the roots of those former deceased champs. It is a nice change of pace to write about life instead of death.

The first couple of bouts were perfect as to whether Areti would compete in next year’s tournament. The first bout slightly terrified her as Anthony Pantoja of Busted Knuckle won a unanimous decision over Joel Haynes of Irongloves. The light-heavyweights in the novice division ominously exchanged hard punches within feet of our table. Areti was thinking about her own boxing dreams, “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” Pantoja will face Emilio Ruelas of Rodriguez for the championship.

It was a relief, as if we had planned it, that the next bouts were the sort of boxers she would face. Evelyn Anaya of Broadway unanimously defeated Destiny Torres of Crowne in the “fun” 15-16 years olds division at 114 pounds. Torres’ family deserves credit for persistent enthusiasm for their kin. Anaya was a deserving victor. She was a slugger’s dream who could throw and receive punches. Kelly Fenn stopped by our table. I appreciated her reassurance to Areti, “Safety is our number one concern. These boxers don’t get hurt. We don’t allow it.” Afterward, Areti, with glowing eyes, felt she could fight either boxer, and at the very least had nothing to fear. Her dad became 100% convinced, “You could do this, Areti. You should do this. You would win.” Both boxers deservedly received a trophy. I mentioned to Areti, “How would you like one of those in your room?” She wanted one.

The 3rd bout displayed a tenacious Jaciel Carbajal of Fuentes fighting for “fun” versus Fernando Meza of Strong Enough. The 15-16 year olds fighting at 106 pounds traded punches throughout. Carbajal’s coach was a bit rough in my opinion. He spoke Spanish between rounds (translated): “What happened? Throw quicker punches.” It was understandable during the bout, but he made Carbajal feel like a loser even after being declared the victor. Both teenagers fought well and should be proud of their effort and courage.

I had requested my friend, John, snap photos from ringside for which he was overly shy even though Kelly Fenn insisted it was not problematic except for flash. No one wants the boxers blinded in the midst of a round. John meekly asked, “No one will get mad?” Kelly shook her head, “I own this thing. If someone has a problem they can come to me.”

Northam vs. Mendoza

Northam vs. Mendoza

The 4th bout was light-heavyweights in the open division was dominated by William Northam III of Rodriguez versus Jesse Mendoza of J and C boxing. The experienced Northam III, on a couple occasions, held Mendoza’s head down while punching, but it was not outrageous by boxing standards. After winning the first two rounds, Northam III scored the first knockdown. I wasn’t aware of a point deduction because usually knockdown rounds are scored 10-8, but Northam III won a deserved unanimous decision, which I expected 30-26 instead was 30-27. Because of the holding by Northam III, I liked the official score better. Northam III will face the winner of the upcoming Jeffrey/Ayala bout for the championship.

John Sotiriou returned following the Northam III/Mendoza bout with a pretty Black girl for me to meet, which is better than my best days in life. Alas, it is “boxing business” as we shake hands. John said, “This is Kendra. She wants to be a boxing photographer.” So I asked, “Do you have much published?” Kendra smiled and replied, “These are my first boxing photos.” So I promised to get the word out to Arizonans looking for a boxing photographer: Kendra Townsend.

During an intermission, Doctor Eitner walked toward our table. James W. Eitner is a bilingual (Spanish/English) family physician of nearly 30 years graduated from Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific who was named top local (Mesa) physician in the summer of 2014. He claims to have saved 49 lives while helping nearly 9,000,000 people. I think the latter number must be a misprint but that’s what his webpage states. Kelly Fenn was often at our table or nearby which brought many people over. I said to the doctor, “It’s been a slow day for you. I suppose that’s a good thing.” Dr. Eitner replied, “I’ve been doing this for five years and never seen anything serious. It doesn’t get too rough. This is amateur, not the pros.”

One of the referees brought inside Arizona Event Center a heaping plate of submarine sandwiches. My first thought was recognition that it was the only payment for all these Arizona Golden Gloves volunteers. There are referees, officials, judges and so many others involved due to passion alone. Actually, my first thought was how to raid the tray for a couple submarine sandwiches. But I restrained myself–swished the straw for my soda pop with melted ice–while my second thought was admiration for all those volunteers involved in the tournament.

John and Areti stepped away a moment to view women’s shoes being sold next door for five dollars. Kelly Fenn sat down and told me her regrets about being a woman who dreamed of being a boxer in the 1970’s: “I’ll always wonder what would have happened if I had been allowed to box. I really wanted to and think that I could have done well. I would have had the best training, but my Dad couldn’t view me as anything except his little girl. There weren’t women boxers in the 1970’s.” I added, “Christy Martin set the bar and phenomenon but that was the 1980’s.” Kelly sighed, “Yeah. By then it was too late. I regret not encouraging (her daughter) Jennifer to box. She would have been great.” I agreed, “Jennifer is a pretty and sexy woman but scares me.” This is a compliment “But there’s a hard edged quality to Jennifer that you can tell she doesn’t take shit from people and can punch.” Kelly laughed, “She can. She’s really amazing.” After a pause she added, “Areti can train at (her) gym any time she wants. We need more women passionate to fight.”

Jennifer Gibbons, Kelly’s daughter, has good boxing genes. Her kin includes two of the greatest defensive boxers in history, the Gibbons’ brothers. Former heavyweight champion, Gene Tunney, wrote that Mike Gibbons was the smartest boxer that he ever witnessed. Tommy Gibbons was the only boxer to last the distance with former heavyweight Champion, Jack Dempsey (pre-Tunney). Mike and Tommy’s defensive boxing genius mixed with Jennifer’s punching power would have been a force to be reckoned.

Intermission was over. The 5th bout displayed Eduardo Gamez of Broadway defeating Daniel Soto of Neutral Corner in a 132-pound novice bout. Admittedly, I viewed the bout with one eye while simultaneously talking to Kelly Fenn. I might have been distracted to review fairly, but these are my notes: “Sort of bland…both occasionally exchanging punches…often slow and cautious…an even fight…I cannot fairly agree or disagree with the decision.” Gamez will fight the winner of the upcoming Zeller/Garcia bout for the championship.

The 6th bout held a bit of interest for me since one of the boxers, Jaden Zeller of Sonny’s sat directly behind us much of the day waiting his turn. I wanted to ask a couple questions, but thought that might distract his attention. His opponent for the 132-pound novice bout was Michael Garcia of Sal Army. Zeller held size and reach advantage which was often nullified by Garcia’s persistent holding. The referee scolded Garcia, “Don’t push…don’t hold…let’s go.” Garcia won a split decision with which I disagreed, as did several in the crowd, “Don’t worry Jason, you won this thing…It was a close bout!” Garcia will fight Eduardo Gamez for the championship.

Kelly Fenn’s gregarious, 13 years-old granddaughter, energetically bounced toward our direction while Kelly sat at our table. We have met her before, a charming, lovely girl bored to death by boxing. She spotted a female of similar age in Areti and initiated conversation. Somehow, after enough prodding, they recognized a mutual friend. While chatting amiably, Kelly suggested more than once that Areti leave us to “play” with her granddaughter. But Areti wasn’t there to play and run around; she was there to view and study boxing. I was proud of Areti during the Super Bowl because she was the only girl who sat through the entire game. The moment was a paradox of Kelly: on the one hand believes women can and should box, while on the other believes girls should “play” while boys view sports. Areti did not tag along with us because she had nothing else to do or John was babysitting her. Areti wants to be a boxer! While it disappointed the granddaughter, and probably Kelly, I was pleased Areti remained strong, “I want to watch boxing,” and when hinted again to “play” while the boys do their sports stuff, “No, I just came here to watch and learn about boxing.” If some girl is going to throw punches at Areti in a short time we want her to know what she’s facing.

The 7th bout displayed Alfredo Escarega Jr. of F 1 Boxing defeating Jesus Arevalo of T n A in a 132-pound open bout. Both experienced amateurs were pressing hard with mutual holding throughout. Toward the end came the only warnings of the day by a referee for low punches. It was not a dirty bout. Two young, ambitious boxers were struggling to land clean punches and were matched fairly even. These things happen. Escarega Jr. will face Andres Duran of Salvation Army tomorrow for the championship.

The 8th bout displayed Brandon Martinez of Neutral Corner defeating Rogello Camarena of Central in a 165-pound novice bout. It was an aggressive and exciting 1st round with boxers trading punches throughout. The judges and I agreed that Martinez won a 10-9 round. They may have worn each other down because the intensity and number of punches thrown decreased steadily as the bout progressed. A bout that began fast concluded slower. I agreed with the 30-27 unanimous decision. Martinez will fight the winner of the upcoming Johnson/Moore Jr. bout for the championship.

During a 2nd intermission a large Black heavyweight stopped by our table while Kelly Fenn had joined us, “I just want to say thanks and I’ll see you tomorrow.” He was escorting a blind brother as Kelly suggested, “Don’t go anywhere. Sit down,” which he did. They went back-and-forth about their frustration that no one will fight him. Boxers see his size and withdraw during tournaments. “I can’t wait until the regionals because then they have to fight me. They can no longer run.” Kelly introduced us with my jotting notes, “Dante Stone from Stone Hand boxing.” I recognize the name and believe am Facebook friends with his father. I kept that to myself and said, “I’d love to see you fight. Hopefully, I can attend the regionals.” We fist-bump.

Kelly Fenn is her father’s daughter and knows his legacy is retaining Arizona Golden Gloves tournament and Phoenix Boys and Girls Gym which offers young men and women an opportunity to avoid street life, gangs and drugs. Her brother wants her to sell. The family leans on her selling. But if she does, the tournament will be handed over to corruption, or even worse, become extinct. Kelly sighs, “I have Zora Folley’s gloves when he fought Muhammad Ali. I wonder what they are worth. We don’t make money from these tournaments.” I offered my thoughts, “Your Dad would want you to keep his gym and Arizona Golden Gloves intact. Perhaps his military honors belong to the family. But any boxing stuff to keep his sports legacy alive would be his wish. If Zora Folley’s gloves keeps Arizona Golden Gloves tournament alive another year he would say sell them.”

There was a raffle with a cute, big-eyed White girl (who looked like a Margaret Keane painting) asking for tickets purchase. My friend, John, couldn’t resist her and bought three. The little girl knew a sucker when she met one and returned a while later with even sadder more hopeful eyes, so John bought two more tickets. It paid off when the raffle climaxed with Areti winning. This was her day! Kelly Fenn was pleased while Jennifer Gibbons offered a sweet smile. She walked alone to the ring. The announcer shouted, “Congratulations to Areti,” accompanied by crowd applause as she was handed two tickets for Roy Jones Jr.’s next promotional event: “Boxing of the Belts” for March 13th. I think Areti wanted a better prize but posed with big smile holding free tickets for the photograph accompanying the win.

Areti may not think so, but the Roy Jones Jr. event at least brings some professional boxing excitement to Phoenix. The main event is 50 years-old Arizona journeyman heavyweight, ‘Bronco’ Billy Wright (formerly ‘Rhino’ Billy Wright), with 13 consecutive knockouts versus 29 years-old Brazilian, ‘Magico’ Gilberto Matheus Domingos, who has won 20 of his 22 bouts via knockout. Wright’s highest-profile fights went disastrously wrong; a 2nd round TKO loss to undefeated Michael Moorer (which he received on one-day notice); a 5th round TKO loss to undefeated Frank Botha; along with a 1st round KO loss to Tony Tucker, but his current knockout streak as an older fighter has attracted positive media buzz. He retired for eight years, but hasn’t lost a bout in the 21st century. Domingos’ last two fights include a 1st round knockout loss to undefeated Swiss, Arnold Gjergial in Switzerland and a knockout victory over fellow Brazilian, Adilson Nolli in their home nation which left Nolli a 1-12 professional record following the outcome. I love this stuff: both are the sort of talented 2nd tier professional boxers thrown to the wolves against undefeated fighters to pad their stats, but it’s an honest living by two big, tough guys and the Phoenix fans should enjoy a hell-of-a-brief show. The other curiosity that night will be undefeated 28 years-old Middleweight, Milorad Micko Zizic from Montenegrin region whose name is spelled wrong for the official promotion.

The 2nd Intermission is over. The 9th bout displayed perhaps the best amateur exhibition of boxing–certainly amongst bouts that went the distance–Angel Quintana of Guadalupe. The overmatched foe in the 123-pound championship novice bout was Raman Arroyo of Neutral Corner. A lost art of amateur boxing is body punches. Some of the blame can be attributed to the Olympics which absurdly do not recognize body punches in their scoring system. Body punches also have more impact with smaller gloves over longer distanced bouts. I am proud of both Quintana and his coach for teaching him better technique than anyone this day. Body punch after body punch landed by Quinetera until Arroyo was forced to recognize their impact. The moment Arroyo lowered his gloves Quintana switched to punches that landed clean to the face. I don’t think Arroyo was a bad boxer–and certainly was not injured–it was just Quintana exhibiting better strategy and boxing skill. I turned to John Sotiriou and said, “I hope these judges recognize body punches.” I was shocked and quite pleased when the 30-27 bout in my judgment was officially ruled 30-26.

The 10th bout arrived with the possible “ringer” who held everyone’s interest: Charles Jeffrey. He was a lanky but fit White boxer who would hold height and reach advantage over Latino Eduardo Ayala. Doctor Eitner was informed to be especially cautious since we had no idea if this guy might be a professional–or who knows? Doctor Eitner noticed Jeffrey was wearing MMA rather than boxing trunks. My friend, John, stepped to the ring to snap photos. Areti and I gossiped. She loved being a part of inside information.

Jeffrey vs. Ayala

Jeffrey vs. Ayala

Between two experienced boxers, it was a good, hard opening seconds of the first round. It was quickly apparent that it would be a classic boxer versus slugger contest. Jeffrey, the boxer, utilized his reach advantage to strategize a series of jabs. Ayala, the slugger, was able to nullify size disadvantage by aggressively stepping inside while landing two punches to the face and backing. After three or four of these exchanges, with Ayala getting the best of each, Jeffrey dropped his gloves to side and taunted Ayala to step forward. The referee immediately halted the bout and jumped between the boxers. He warned Jeffrey that sort of behavior was unacceptable at Arizona Golden Gloves or any amateur boxing event. The bout was waved to continue. It remained lopsided with Ayala landing the only punches while ducking jabs aimed toward his direction. The round concluded with kindness for Jeffrey if it was scored 10-9, instead of 10-8, for Ayala.

At this point, I’ll jump ahead to what my research revealed that night. Jeffrey had fought as an ‘elite’ (no headgear) during the 2013 USA boxing championships. His listed address at that time was Durango, Colorado. A boxer can fight in more than one State for Golden Gloves but residency is to protect the local community and prevent boxers from bouncing State to State. Ultimately, whether Jeffrey’s residency was truthful or falsified is irrelevant so it’s better to give him benefit of the doubt.

The 2nd round began with Ayala dominating and landing hard blows. After a punch rocked Jeffrey backward the referee halted the bout and declared a standing knockdown. Jeffrey received a count and the bout continued. Ayala continued his dominance as I turned to Areti and said, “The ringer is getting his ass kicked.” After another hard Ayala punch to nose rocked Jeffrey backward the referee halted the bout and declared a 2nd standing knockdown. Jeffrey’s nose was bleeding profusely as he received the count. The bout was waved to continue. Areti was disgusted, but hypnotized by blood gushing from Jeffrey’s nose. I told her, “They need to stop this fight.” The referee halted the bout again, sending Jeffrey to Doctor Eitner for his first action of the day. Eitner applied gauze to Jeffrey’s nose and said the bout could continue. The referee waved the bout onward with an aggressive Ayala pouncing with hard punches while Jeffrey helplessly backed. The referee stopped the bout by technical knockout; Ayala will face William Northam III, in what should be a good battle, for the championship.

Jeffrey takes the count

Jeffrey takes the count

John Sotiriou returned to our table visibly disturbed, “Did you notice that (Doctor Eitner) applied gauze to the boxer’s nose without wearing gloves?” I hadn’t, but would mention it to Kelly Fenn. When I did she spoke to the main official sitting directly in front of me. He said that medical gloves were required for professional boxing and MMA but not USA amateur boxing. It seems strange that gloves would be required for those others and not amateur. John works as a nurse at Palm Valley Rehabilitation and Care Center. I requested that he write the reason he believes doctors at amateur bouts should wear gloves.

John: “I cringed when I saw (Doctor Eitner) at ringside cleaning the boxer’s bloody nose without wearing gloves. He certainly put himself at risk. Whether it should be required at ringside is not up to me. In healthcare we use certain standards precautions, a set of protocols developed by the CDC to prevent transmission of blood-borne diseases, the principle being that all patients are considered potentially infected. Are we going to glove up before shaking hands or wiping a kid’s nose? For healthcare workers it’s required.”

The bout of the day was somewhat unexpected: Dontal Johnson of Irongloves versus Alfred Moore Jr. of Geronimo Stronghold fighting as 165-pound novices. It was sandwiched between the “ringer” and the potentially new boxing star. I told John he didn’t have to photograph the bout. Kendra put her camera down and stepped away. I suppose amateur boxing tournaments are like fishing; you have to be patient and alert. Areti wanted to see a knockout forgetting the axiom, “Be careful what you wish for; it might one day happen.” The only advance note of interest was that it was Moore’s first bout.

Both fighters were in their corners for the opening bell when Moore mysteriously exited the ring. The announcer called for him and I thought perhaps he had second doubts. While it would be disappointing there is nothing cowardly about changing your mind. Moore was finally located and as he passed by our table, Jennifer Gibbons leapt to her, feet recognizing they were the wrong ounce gloves, “Wait a minute. Stop! Those are the wrong gloves.” I hadn’t realized how alert Jennifer was monitoring the activity. The correct gloves were placed on Moore while Johnson was isolated alone in his corner patiently waiting for the bout to begin.

The 1st round was fairly tame compared to most of the bouts. There was minimal boxing or punching with both boxers feeling each other. I would have awarded Johnson the round, 10-9, but Moore was appearing to be patient and could be proud of his performance thus far. The 2nd round began as more of the same with a bit more aggression. As Moore stepped forward he appeared to trip over Johnson’s foot while punched to upper-chest. The referee outside the ring announced a knockdown so he received a count. I disagreed, but it is someone else’s decision. The round continued for only twenty seconds until Johnson spotted an opening and landed a devastating left to jaw that flattened Moore onto his back without movement. There was a sickening thud as he hit canvas with back of his head.

It was shocking and unexpected. It was so brutal the crowd did not respond with cheer or applause but deadly silence. Open-mouthed, I said to John and Areti, “Wow! He’s out. This guy’s not getting up.” Moore received a count of “3” before the bout was waved over. Moore’s coach hovered over his still boxer. Others moved toward the fallen pugilist with a shout heard aloud, “Everyone get away except the coach and doctor.” The audience remained quiet except for low-volume murmuring. I whispered to Areti, “You wanted to see a knockout; what do you think?” Areti replied, “I’m scared for him. I hope he’s not hurt bad.” My instinct was to grab the camera and photograph for this story but the crowd would not have understood. Johnson remained alone and still in a neutral corner with gloves outstretched grabbing ropes.

Doctor Eitner entered the ring and pulled open the eye-lids of Moore then stepped away. He didn’t seem particularly concerned and exited the ring. One assumes that’s a good sign. Kelly Fenn had left her position to station herself outside the ring next to the grisly scene. The coach for Moore, and another friend, was able to rouse him into movement. The first-time boxer was pulled from a sitting position onto his feet. The only applause of the knockout was polite at best with Moore able to walk. I felt sorrow for Johnson too, because he did nothing wrong except land a great punch.

Dontal Johnson

Dontal Johnson

I wondered if there was something wrong with Moore beyond the punch. It seemed trivial at the time, but not being in his corner for the opening bell and putting on the wrong gloves; these things seemed more relevant afterward. The referee approached me amidst the melancholy mood with a shrug of shoulders and said, “I didn’t do anything wrong. There was nothing more that I could do.” Absolutely! Moore appeared fine until the knockout punch. Kelly Fenn returned dazed, “I don’t know where I am at this point,” deeply concerned while forgetting the trophy presentation. The solitude of the victor, Johnson, was striking. He finally exited the ring amidst no applause or congratulations. The crowd had forgotten about him. Kelly retrieved trophies with each receiving theirs outside the ring. Johnson will face Brandon Martinez, in a battle that I wished could see, for the championship.

Dontal Johnson was deservedly pleased by his performance, later posting on Facebook, “(Coach) Joe Leinhauser, thanks for all your time and effort as well as insight and intelligence you made me the fighter I am today. Great coaching led me to this victory.”

Boxing continued with the final bout which was the most anticipated: Roscoe Holifield from Keith Boxing versus Adrian Aros of Neutral corner for the light-heavyweight novice championship. Was Roscoe Holifield going to be the next Arizona boxing star? Could the guy who appeared from “nowhere” score another 1st round knockout? The answer would be no. It was a competitive round, but Aros held a 10-9 advantage by landing more punches. The 2nd round was much the same. Holifield seemed slightly confused against the better prepared foe. It was now 20-18.

Aros hits Holifield

Aros hits Holifield

I researched Roscoe Holifield later that night and am not sure it is his real name. Arizona Golden Gloves must be diligent next year with background checks since it’s an Olympics year as well. Holifield appears to be self-trained via the internet. A black man calling himself “Coach Keith” has only recently been posting training videos such as, “How to Learn to Box.” Under the circumstances, with this being only his 2ndbout, Holifield was impressive enough that he should continue his boxing pursuit. On this day he was facing “Coach Adrian” who patiently worked the 3rd round knowing he would need to be knocked out to lose. Holifield was tired. With about thirty seconds remaining, Aros let loose a final flurry with few punches actually landing but preventing Holifield from initiating action. The final ten seconds ticked away with neither boxer doing anything. Aros won the unanimous decision and championship, 30-27.

In a short time, I had grown to like these boxers and didn’t want any of them to lose. Sunday would be the showdown for eight of today’s winners. Destiny Torres and Jaciel Carbajal did not qualify for Golden Glove champion due to age restriction while Angel Quintana and Adrian Aros already had won their championships.

The amateur boxing event was over. We exchanged hugs with Kelly Fenn. The “fight-of-the-century” or at least the past five years, undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao for the undisputed Welterweight title, is scheduled for May 2nd. Jennifer Gibbons is hosting a party for which John and I were kindly invited. It’s more fun to view an event around people except guys will drive me crazy by insisting any “street” guy from prison could knock out Mayweather Jr. My friend, John, studied the food layout at Jennifer’s last boxing party like Sister Wendy Beckett enthralled by Matisse’s lines and color.

Dante Stone won his Golden Gloves championship without a bout because no one would fight him. Amongst the Sunday showdowns based on Saturday’s boxers; Emilio Ruelas DEFEATED Anthony Pantoja; Afredo Escarega Jr. DEFEATED Andres Duran; Eduardo Ayala DEFEATED William Northam III; Eduardo Gamez DEFEATED Michael Garcia; Dontal Johnson DEFEATED Brandon Martinez.

On the Saturday drive home, Areti said she wanted a serious physical regimen. She already jogs daily. Areti begged her father to purchase healthier food. John promised to encourage and monitor her weightlifting program. I asked Areti her final impression having witnessed Arizona Golden Gloves for herself. She replied, “I thought it was fun and interesting. Everything was well organized and I could see the boxers were safely protected.”

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