Boxers compete in Maywood tournament
If you want to check out some great amateur boxing, the City of Maywood is the place to be this weekend. It’s time for the annual Blue & Gold Boxing Tournament being held at the Maywood Activity Center. During the long Labor Day weekend, you’ll have a chance to watch competitors from ages 8-34 square off in not just one but two boxing rings set up in the venue.
This annual competition draws out the best young pugs from both nearby cities like Pasadena, Santa Ana, El Monte, Burbank and Commerce and as far away as Indio, Temecula, Maricopa, Arizona and even the Philippines. Yes, this year there’s a special international flair in the tournament. The Philippine National Boxing Team is participating in this prestigious Blue & Gold which began Thursday night and continues through Sunday. Scanning the bout list I saw plenty of recognizable gyms including Wild Card, De La Hoya, and L.A. Sands, also bringing out their best amateurs to the show.
In this weekend’s finals, you’ll see female and male boxers, both novice and open, swinging out of the red and blue corners. You’ll also see local prospects, international standouts and many talented diamonds in the rough all lacing up to hopefully claim this year’s top honor.
I already saw a lot of talent on the very first night of the tournament which means the finals today and tomorrow will be fireworks in the ring. One talented teen that had some good moves and sharp punches was Juan Funez. Boxing’s in his blood, as the 119-pounder is the nephew of Ricky Funez, from the Ten Goose Gym in Van Nuys. Keep your eye on young Juan as he continues to bring home more championship belts from the amateur ranks.
As I made my way around the bleachers in the activity center, I chatted with some familiar faces in boxing. These individuals work hard and are committed to developing your next champions and superstars of the ring. Joe Zanders, President of the Southern California Association of USA Boxing, and his wife and official Pat Zanders are well-known in SoCal’s thriving amateur boxing scene. “Things are going great and I’m looking forward to this weekend,” Joe said as we looked up at the two rings ready for action. And Pat was enthusiastic about having the Filipino fighters taking part in the tournament as I met some of them at the entrance of the gym. The busy couple will be gearing up next for the Silver Gloves competition beginning in November.
During a break in the action, I spoke with trainer Fidel Briseño from the Pacoima Boxing Club. He was the announcer of the show this night and he also serves as Vice President for the Southern California Association of USA Boxing. The head coach is excited to tell me all about an upcoming trip with a SoCal boxing team who will be traveling all the way to Tahiti to compete! “We’re gonna get a great group of boxers together,” he says, “and we’ll be going in October. It will be very exciting for the young fighters!”
There were many close battles taking place on the canvas. While the kids may be foes inside the ropes, once the final bell rings the little challengers make sure to shake hands and keep things friendly between all the gyms participating.
“As a coach, we teach them sportsmanship,” Fausto De La Torre explains. “We build a foundation for these kids. At the end of sparring and during each competition, they shake hands with everyone.” The coach from Pasadena trains both amateurs and pros and knows the importance of building the young fighters as they learn and grow in the ring. His pro Eder Peralta, who was also in attendance at the event, looks to have his fifth pro fight in October.
After a busy day of weigh-ins and bout draws on Wednesday, the matchup boards were complete thanks to Dick Jones of USA Boxing and a large group of officials who dedicate their time to the sport. “On Thursday and Friday there are 19 bouts,” Jones mentions as I survey his detailed bout boards. “Then on Saturday and Sunday we’ll have 22 bouts in one ring, 23 bouts in the other ring…45 total bouts each day!”
And Mr. Jones sets a fine example for these aspiring pugilists. While he oversees these young amateurs, he also laces up showcasing his own skills of the sweet science. I congratulate the fit gentleman (who looks much younger than his 70 years) on his recent rematch two months ago at the Oxnard PAL show where he fought Robert “Sting” Ray, also age 70. These masters in boxing can now claim one win a piece in their competitive duels.
Also inspiring these amateur boxers were several pro fighters in the crowd including Peruvian superstar and World Champ Kina Malpartida, WBO and IBA titlist Antonio Diaz, and up-and-comer Charles Huerta. A huge star in her native country, Kina is trained in California by Charles’ father Mando Huerta from the Maywood Boxing Club. The top female athlete said she’ll be fighting again before the end of this year. She took time to pose with fans who recognized the talented slugger.
With the bouts continuing through this Sunday, Maywood is the place to be if you enjoy amateur boxing.
See you at the fights!
2010 Blue & Gold Tournament
Saturday and Sunday: 12 noon
Maywood Activity Center
4801 E. 58th Street
Maywood, CA 90270
Photos by Michele Chong