By Don Smith: Sad but true...Politics,inflated egos and a cruel ill-advised suspension almost derailed the 42nd Annual Copper Gloves Tournament at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix, Arizona October 24-25.
The trouble began in February of this year when 75 year old USA Boxing President and Chairman of the Board Hal Adonis was quoted in the New Yorker Magazine claiming a connection between child abuse and success in boxing. His pointed remarks were particularly incendiary towards women which prompted several human rights groups to demand his resignation.
The AIBA, amateur boxing International governing body , and the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) agreed that his insensitive words and personal attitude were detrimental to women and amateur boxing and they jointly called for the dismissal of President Adonis. In June he was more or less thrown out of office ;but, members of USA Boxing allowed Adonis (by a narrow vote margin) to retain a seat on the board.
When it became apparent that Adonis wouldn’t retract or apologize for his hurtful remarks, the AIBA slapped him with a two year suspension from participating from any and all USA Boxing activities. He still didn’t budge! Finally, in an unprecedented move, the AIBA issued a three month suspension on USA Boxing and sent emails to its’ 37,000 members and directed them to cancel (effective October 19) tournaments, sparring sessions and other boxing related exercises until January 19, 2013.
Silence wasn’t an option. Upon receiving news of the suspension, USA Boxing President Charles Butler, Copper Gloves President Kelly Fenn and members of the boxing media, across America, appealed to the AIBA and USOC and pleaded for the suspension to be lifted immediately. They collectively told the USOC and AIBA that gyms and the sport of boxing provide a place and tool for young men and women to learn and grow and closure of these facilities would send the wrong message.
AIBA President Ching-Kuo Wu and Executive Director Mr. Ho Kim agreed and lifted the suspension. First bell on opening night for the Copper Gloves Tournament chimed late but it was a miracle that the event was able to proceed at all. Unfortunately, the number of bouts was limited due to the chaos created by the suspension. Hopefully a valued lesson was learned from this monumental blunder that affected the lives of thousands of boys and girls who count on gyms being open after school. Here is a concise recap of the two day amateur boxin event.
On October 24 In a battle of 75 pound fighters , Micky Scala from Broadway Gym decisioned Aaron Garcia from Fuentes Gym; plenty of action.In the second bout (110 lbs) Allen Martinez ( Calderon Gym) walkover victor as Roy Orozco (Rodriguez Gym) failed to show.In the third scheduled bout, a senior division 132 lb contest: Eduardo Aldaraca (South Mountain Gym) used his experience and strength to dominate Joseph Russell representing Busted Knuckle Gym. Ramero Trejo (Taz Gym) and Danny Riddell Jr. (Hook City (Gym) engaged in a open 165 lb battle with Trejo winning via decision. Johnathan Garcia (Hammer Gym) advanced with a walkover victory over Ricardo Lopez, Grant Park Gym. In fairness to the no shows, they thought the tournament was cancelled according to officials.
October 25, Round two of the competition was held on Thursday night and Chris Scala (Broadway Gym) won his 110 lb bout with Alton Martinez representing Hitman Gym. Edgar Brito (Brito’s Gym) earned a walkover decision when Ryan Ridell, representing Hook City Gym, failed to show. Kevin Morales (Hard Knocks Gym) was ready to fight Oscar Jimenes (Martillo’s Gym) but word of the suspension lift never reached Jimenes’ peeps;so, he was a no show. Leonardo Granillo (Central Gym) failed to show in his bout with fellow Central Gym team mate Jesus Dominquez who did show.. Jesus hopes to be on the 2016 USA Olympic Team. The highlight of the evening (Thursday) was the performance of massive heavyweight Sione Tava representing Phoenix Boys and Girls Center Gym. Tova, born in Tonga, was either making his boxing debut or engaging in his fifth fight depending on the source of information. The 27 year old is a bit raw but Alfred Quintana (Central Gym) can attest to the big fellow’s awesome power. In the second round, Tova lifted Quintana’s feet off the canvas with a short left uppercut. Quintana was bushed and ready to retire when the referee decided to stop the contest. After the bout, Tova and his management team confirmed that the Tonga Native will accelerate his training program and turn pro soon. 178 pound William Northan lll (Rodriguez Gym) was very impressive in his victory over young Johnathan Garcia (Hammer Gym). The Referee stopped the contest and rightfully so. The 26 year old Northan is too experienced and strong for the game but outmatched Garcia. William hopes to turn pro ASAP! ...time is ticking. A special pat on the back for USA Boxing, Kelly Fenn and her staff. They did what they had to do to carry on the rich and memorable tradition and history of Copper Gloves..Atribute to the memory of Al Fenn; founder of the Copper Gloves Tournament.
Undefeated Super Bantamweight Emilio Colon Garcia (6-0-1) and his father (Danny) attended the second night of the Copper Tournament and the senior Garcia used the occasion to call out a local boxing writer (guess who) and lodge a vociferous and animated protest about information submitted to this veteran journalist and printed over the Internet in one of my recent columns. Personally, I like Emilio and I would never use my pen or computer to smear anyone. Professional journalists don’t do that. The story centered on the question of why Emilio Garcia didn’t fight Jensen Ramirez on October 6 at the Celebrity Theatre. Garcia told me, at the Copper Event, that he overextended his ACL and was forced to cancel his fight with Ramirez who subsequently fought Paul "Ziggy" Romero on the card. I covered the October 6 show and several "reliable" sources contradicted Garcia’s injury claim and said he was faking the injury in an effort to side step Ramirez who is scheduled to fight Alexis Santiago on November 30 at the Celebrity Theatre in a highly anticipated 6 round battle.
The same sources also claimed they saw Garcia running after he excused himself from the card. I calmly explained to both Garcia’s that the assertion wasn’t made by me and if Emilio wanted to effectively end the controversy; he or his father should go to the treating physician and request a printout stating the nature of the injury and time and date when the incident happened. I gave the father my telephone number and email address; so he could forward the information to me. When neither man called, I phoned and left a message for Mr. Garcia on two separate occasions. It is time to move on to the next round....Good luck to Emilio!