Exclusive: Pro Fighters at Annual Event
A group of pro boxers took their swings on the golf course at Thompson Boxing Promotions’ (TBP) annual Golf Tournament of Champions held this month at the Desert Princess Country Club in Cathedral City, Calif.
This day in the desert is a fun way for the fighters to enjoy a brief break away from training camp while meeting all the other golfers in the tourney hosted by TBP President/Founder Ken Thompson. Thompson and General Manager/Matchmaker Alex Camponovo greeted all the players participating in this May 5 event.
Joining the heavy hitters were prizefighters Taras Shelestyuk, Ruben Villa, Michael Dutchover, Manuel Mendez, Scott Alexander, and Jose Salinas. All of these punchers have fought on Thompson cards held in Ontario and Corona. The majority of the boxers had never picked up a golf club before this outing but all of the guys said they were up to the challenge. Also hitting the links were boxing trainers Henry Ramirez, Danny Zamora, Steve Harpst and Max Garcia, ring announcer Sonny Franco and model/dancer Alina Shelestyuk.
Teeing off for the first time, the pro athletes enjoyed trying their hand at a brand new sport. After a shotgun start and playing under “Best Ball” rules, the teams tooled around the beautiful acreage for 18 holes of golf over the lush Lagos and Cielo course. The desert winds made it a very relaxing and enjoyable day in Palm Springs.
Squad goals were met on the greens as the “four-man scrambles” played for par. While there were no “Holes in One” for the fighters, they all said it was a knockout day hanging out with the Thompson Boxing crew; and the registered golfers and event sponsors also mentioned how they had a great time meeting the pro boxers as well.
The boxers had a blast. Taras Shelestyuk (2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist) and his pretty wife Alina were naturals on the course. Both are used to competing (Taras in boxing, Alina in ballroom dancing) and the pair picked up the sport of golf extremely fast. Taras will be fighting at an upcoming show in July and continues his ascent to the top.
Trainer Danny Zamora showed his two young charges, Ruben Villa and Michael Dutchover, how to execute proper swings while on the putting greens. Ruben just turned 20 years old and Michael is only 19. Both young men were amateur champs and look to have very bright futures as new pros.
Thompson fighters Manuel Mendez and Scott Alexander also are staying busy in the ring. Mendez just notched another victory on April 14 and Alexander is returning to the ring in the next month or so. Thompson Boxing Promotions keeps its stable of champs, contenders and prospects busy with live boxing shows almost every month. May 19, June 23 and July 1 mark their next shows in the Southland.
After the pugs tried their skills at golf, it was time for the awards dinner, the highly-anticipated prize raffle, and the big announcement of the day’s victors. The banquet was lively with Sonny Franco manning the mic. In the celebrity division, Manuel Mendez received second place honors and Taras Shelestyuk nabbed first place bragging rights. In the non-celeb division, Team Fontana won with an impressive score of 54 with the San Diego Team coming in second with a tally of 57.
While the boxers are accustomed to taking their swings, hooks and shots in the boxing ring, all said it was a very nice change of pace to test their expertise on the golf course. They joked around about missed shots and balls going into the bunkers but said they liked trying their luck at golf.
Congrats to all the winners and see you at the fights!
Photos by Michele Chong
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