BEHIND THE GLOVES
letter from the president It has been a banner year for the KC Golden Gloves. In April we hosted yet another successful KC Golden Gloves regional championship tournament, our 82nd annual. Our crowds were bigger, we had more boxers, and we raised more money which will go to support amateur boxing in Kansas City. Our efforts from a couple of years ago to establish boxing gyms in Kansas City, Missouri, through the parks department have paid off. There are currently 30-40 kids each night boxing at the Garrison Boxing club and the Gregg/Klice boxing club. Thank you to head coaches Craig Cummings and Deandre Jackson for your timeless efforts. I am looking forward to seeing these young boxers compete next April for a KC Golden Gloves championship. By far the most significant accomplishment for our organization
was taking home our first ever Golden Gloves national championship this May in Lafayette, Louisiana. Kansas City is one of the smallest of the 30 Golden Gloves organizations. The states of Texas, California, and Florida are each one Golden Gloves team. For us to compete – and beat – those teams is a huge accomplishment. Congratulations to national champion Cam F. Awesome, and national runner-ups Jorge Carlos and Marcell Davidson, all from Turner Boxing Academy. Looking forward to even better things this fall and beyond. Chris Walden President, 2017 National Champion KC Golden Gloves kcgoldengloves.com KC Golden Gloves is an all-volunteer, non-profit dedicated to supporting amateur boxing in KC and beyond.
The KC Golden Gloves is dedicated to amateur boxing as a way to develop discipline, respect, and wellness in its athletes and empower the next generation of leaders and citizens in the Kansas City area.
With a rich history, the sport of boxing provides an environment for teaching and inspiring confidence, work ethic, physical and emotional well being, sportsmanship, social development and a culture of citizenship. Our vision is to create a community of dedicated athletes, coaches, officials, spectators, and supporters of amateur boxing to achieve our mission. 2
Garrison and Gregg/Klice Boxing Clubs celebrate grand openings
ore than 50 people gathered Monday, March 27, 2017, as two of Kansas City’s newest boxing gyms celebrated their grand openings. Garrison gym and Gregg/Klice Boxing Club opened to much fanfare during a ceremony at the Garrison Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The years-long process of establishing these two gyms was only made possible through a partnership with KC Golden Gloves and the KCMO Parks and Recreation department. “Our biggest accomplishment by far the last few years has been partnering with the KCMO parks department to open two new gyms in the KCMO area,” said Chris
Walden, president of KC Golden Gloves. “Bringing boxing back to KCMO is great for the community and is key to our growth as it will provide more local competition for all clubs and make KC more competitive on a national level.” The hard work put in by Gregg/ Klice head coach DeAndre Jackson and Garrison head coach Craig Cummings has cemented their gyms as positive environments for boxers in the area. About 2030 boxers train at each gym every night, learning the tools it takes to succeed inside and outside the ring. The Garrison Boxing Club, located at 1124 E. 5th St. in Kansas City, Missouri, offers
boxing classes to youth ages 8-17 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Gregg/Klice Boxing Club, found at 1600 John “Buck” O’Neil Way in Kansas City, Missouri, gives youth ages 8-17 the opportunity to step in the ring from 5:30-7:30 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Since opening, boxers at both gyms have competed in the 2017 KC Golden Gloves, Ringside World Championships and other local fights. With so many promising young athletes, the Garrison and Gregg/ Klice boxing clubs can look forward to continued success in and outside the ring. 3
oxing is putting yourself on display. You box in the ring alone. You train on a heavy bag alone. And when you’re trying to execute a perfect left hook, hundreds of strangers are watching you succeed or fail in real time… alone. I was terrible at it. When I first stepped foot in a gym, shoulder-length hair covered my face. No one ever got direct eye contact from me for more than a second or two. I mumbled, lacked self-confidence, and generally didn't want to put myself in a position to look stupid. All of those qualities were put on display in the ring. I started my amateur career 1-9. I like to think I had a pretty good mind for the sport, but I wasn't able to break that mental barrier to put myself out there. Even in the gym I did just enough to look like I knew what I was doing, but never fully committed to break my body down to build a better fighter. The way I found myself was through the Kansas City Golden Gloves community. The boxers, coaches and officials all supported me before every match. They all continued to support me after every defeat. They weren’t worried about turning me into a better boxer. They wanted to build me into a better man. Even if I didn’t feel comfortable putting myself on display
Boxing isn’t ‘a bout’ standing alone when I stepped through the ropes, I felt comfortable being myself with the KC Gloves community. Over time that comfort translated into the ring. I cut my hair so I could look my opponent in the eye. I walked with confidence, head held high. And I made my presence known by speaking in a loud clear voice, which helped when I would scream at the top of my lungs during any of my teammates’ bouts. As I was finding myself when I didn’t compete, I found what could make me successful with the gloves on. And I kept fighting. Even at one point going 3-0 in three weeks. When I went to attend college at Pittsburg State University, despite my underwhelming record of success, the KC Golden Gloves awarded me an athletic scholarship. It wasn’t because I was a great athlete. It was because of the relationships I had made, the man the sport was turning me into, and what the organization felt was someone they wanted to put on display. The KC Gloves scholarship kept me committed to the sport which, looking back, may be the single
biggest contributing factor to any of my success. Now, I’m a television news reporter in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m not alone in a ring. Instead I’m alone in front of a camera. Instead of preparing in the gym with a heavy bag, I’m preparing in the newsroom with court documents and government filings. And instead of trying to execute a perfect left hook in front of hundreds of strangers, I have to execute a compelling and informative story in front of tens of thousands of strangers. Every day I face a story, interview or heartbreaking tragedy the same way a boxer faces an opponent. Every day I put myself on display. And I can do that with success because of the KC Golden Gloves. Tim Spears was a KC Golden Gloves Scholarship recipient from 20102013 while attending Pittsburg State University. He served on the KC Gloves board of directors from 2014 to March 2017. He’s currently the business reporter for Spectrum News in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has won multiple awards for his reporting.
KC Golden Gloves offers scholarships to student athletes enrolled in a higher education institution. To date, we have given more than $150,000 in educational scholarships to more than 100 athletes. We are proud to support these outstanding individuals and future leaders in our community. Requirements: Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 each semester Be enrolled as a full-time student (12 credit hours) each semester Participate in two sanctioned USA Boxing events each year as a competitor, official or volunteer Abide by a strict code of conduct outlined by KC Golden Gloves’ rules and regulations To apply for our scholarship program, visit KCGoldenGloves.com/Scholarships and fill out the application provided. 5
n May, we sent 10 KC Golden Gloves champions down to Lafayette, Louisiana, to represent Kansas City in the Golden Gloves National Championship. They did not disappoint. Although there were some upsets along the way, the team put away the competition and scored enough points to win the national championship – cementing KC Golden Gloves as the best Golden Gloves organization in the nation. “What an amazing accomplishment for the KC team,” said Chris Walden, KC Golden Gloves president. “For a moment I thought this was such an accomplishment that it could never happen again – and it may not – but then I think about how young the KC boxers are. This was the first national Golden Gloves tournament for half of this year’s team – but it won’t be the last.” The national Golden Gloves tournament consists of 30 teams – one from each Golden Gloves organization across the country – fighting it out in a five-night gauntlet that tests these young athletes’ skill, determination and discipline. The tournament uses 32-man brackets, meaning boxers crowned 6
champion could have potentially won five matches – one for each night of the tournament. Needless to say, winning a Golden Gloves National Championship is a badge of honor – especially for a market like Kansas City. The KC Golden Gloves spans from Topeka to Columbia, and from Joplin to the Nebraska border. In contrast, the entire states of Texas, California and Florida each have their own team. “Think about the size of those states and the boxing demographic in each,” Walden said. “Our boxers beat them all.” Three KC boxers advanced to the finals, propelling our team to the championship round of the tournament tied for first place with Chicago Golden Gloves. Jorge Carlos, Marcell Davidson and Cam F. Awesome – all of Turner Boxing Academy – battled their way to championship bouts, beating some stiff competition along the way. Carlos finished as a National Runner-Up in the 114 lb class after falling to California’s Derry Noble in a hard-fought match.
Davidson, 141 lbs, also earned the distinction of National Gloves title and gave us the points needed to claim our first Runner-Up after Adam Ali of New Jersey defeated him. Golden Gloves National Championship in our 82-year history. Down 0-2 for the night, KC needed a win. The tenacity and perseverance displayed by the boxers we Then it was Cam’s turn. And when Cam gets in the ring, sent to nationals made our organization, their coaches and everyone in KC breathes a sigh of relief. Kansas City proud. Cam, who was fighting at 201 lbs this time, dominated the first round against Marquise Williams of New York Golden 108 lbs Mario Armenta Jr. FlacoRamirez Boxing Club Gloves before taking some 114 lbs Jorge Carlos (National runner-up) Turner Boxing Academy hard shots in the second. Then, 123 lbs Misael Reyes Turner Boxing Academy in the third round, it happened. 132 lbs Devon Campbell Turner Boxing Academy “Cam pursed his lips, landed 141 lbs Marcell Davidson (National runner-up) Turner Boxing Academy a good hard combination to 152 lbs Marcus Davidson Turner Boxing Academy the body and head of Williams, 165 lbs Eric Priest Turner Boxing Academy and then stepped back, paused 178 lbs Matthew Anani Turner Boxing Academy to admire his work and gave 201 lbs Cam F. Awesome (National champion) Turner Boxing Academy his opponent the ‘Cam Grin,’” 201+ lbs Eddy Guillen Whatsoever Boxing Club Walden said. “It was over.” Cam’s route of Williams Head coach: John Brown Assistant coach: Matt Mays earned him his fourth Golden 7
Former KC Golden Gloves boxer Darrell “Tyrone” Wren had one dying wish: to see a Golden Gloves championship one last time. Well – technically – he had two wishes. He also wanted to stop by Wendy’s and grab a #2. And, although his double cheeseburger was delicious, it didn’t compare to seeing the sweet science again. It had been 40 years since 65-yearold Tyrone, a five-time KC Golden Gloves champion, had been to a boxing match. He got his final wish when he attended the 82nd annual KC Golden Gloves Regional Championships in April. Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care reached out to the KC Golden Gloves to fulfill Tyrone’s wish as part of Crossroads’ Gift of a Day program, which provides terminally ill patients with the opportunity to have one perfect day. Tyrone’s perfect day was spent ringside. Tyrone was all smiles that April evening, especially when he met some of the young boxers and took pictures with them. “It feels great to be here,” Tyrone hollered over the grunts of the fight nearby. Many former boxers and trainers stopped by to visit with Tyrone between fights, including KC boxing legend Tony Chiaverini. Young fighters pulled up chairs to Tyrone’s ringside
by Leah Wankum table throughout the night, either to snap a quick picture with the former champ or to talk about his legendary boxing career which had him one bout away from fighting Sugar Ray Leonard – yes, that Sugar Ray. “We were honored to be able to grant Tyrone’s wish,” said Chris Walden, KC Golden Gloves president. “I was
flattered to hear he thought so highly of boxing, and having him at the tournament was a great experience for not only him, but the entire KC Golden Gloves community. We’re a family, and Tyrone is part of that.” Born and raised in Kansas City, Tyrone is a boxer through and through. He poured his heart into the sport, with nothing but the shouts and cheers of a
rowdy crowd ringing in his ears. “When they put me in the ring, I showed them what I got,” Tyrone said of his fighting style. “Being in the ring and hearing the crowd scream louder: ‘Go Tyrone, Go Tyrone!’” He was quite an active boxer, running 10 miles a day as part of his training. Noticeably different from boxers’ training today, Tyrone wasn’t a fan of listening to music during his workouts; he needed to concentrate on his technique. “It would break my concentration,” he said. One year later — In the spirit of a true boxing champion, Tyrone recovered from his terminal illness, a surprising and happy twist to his story, according to Crossroads Hospice earlier this year. “Evidently, he is quite the fighter and battled back from his illness to come off hospice,” said Tracy Bunch, the Gift Of A Day coordinator with Crossroads. “He is still living in a nursing facility for around-the-clock care.” Although Tyrone’s boxing days are over, his legacy remains behind; he signed his autograph on a glove and left it with the KC Golden Gloves to inspire future boxers
She hits ha She sings lo B oxing singer, or singing boxer? Whatever you want to call her, you may see Natalia Castaneda doing both at the next boxing competition in Kansas City. Whether she’s hitting her opponent in a technical knockout or hitting the high notes in her favorite song, Natalia puts passion into every facet of her life. In just her first year competing, Natalia is a two-time Novice Ringside World Champion and ranked fourth in her weight class by USA Boxing. “For me, as a girl, it shows how strong girls can be because you know how it’s a male-dominant sport,” she said. “I like to represent how girls can be as good as guys in the sport.” With four years of training under her belt – pun intended – she weighs in at 95 pounds and does all her training and conditioning at Flaco Ramirez Boxing. “Natalia’s punching power and
When she’s not boxing for a belt, Natalia is belting her heart out. Natalia often sings the national anthem to kick off boxing events in Kansas City. But she mostly sings rhythm and blues, especially from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Her vocal range can be found in Whitney Houston’s music. On a cold March afternoon 10
outside KCMO PAL Boxing Club, Natalia stepped away from cheering on her peers at Flaco Ramirez Boxing’s Knockout Night to sing Whitney Houston’s 1992 hit “I Will Always Love You.” With snow crunching under her boots and swaying to silent music, she closed her eyes, snapped her fingers to a rhythm only she could hear and let her voice ring out a capella across the quiet, snow-sprinkled lawn.
Boxing is in Natalia’s blood. Not only is she a third-generation boxer in the Castaneda family, but she is also surrounded by uncles, an aunt, several cousins and even her own brother in the sport. “It’s a family sport,” said Donovan Castaneda, who doubles as Natalia’s dad and coach. Donovan started boxing in California in the late ‘90s, with his own dad as his trainer.
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way,” Picart said. Picart describes Natalia’s fighting style as a “boxer puncher,” meaning she packs a very solid punch that can damage her opponent, although she prefers not to be the one coming forward when sparring. “This works in her favor when facing a pressure fighter, but can work against her when dealing with a counter puncher or mirrored image,” Picart said. “In the gym, she has been putting more emphasis in picking up the punch count without sacrificing her greatest strength.” Although she loves her sport, boxing isn’t all fun and games to her. It takes hard work and dedication. But she doesn’t even sneer at her least favorite part to the sport – conditioning – because she knows she needs to get faster in the ring.
Donovan is immensely proud of his daughter, not least because she competes in the primarily male-dominated sport. “She’s got to train harder than a guy,” he said of Natalia, adding that he thinks women receive little credit for their hard work and competitive spirit. “She has to prove herself. I think women have to work harder in some fields because for so long, they’ve been run by men. “When she steps into the ring, I want her to know everybody has to work the same. Everybody stops what they’re doing (to focus) on the fight.”
Natalia wants to make careers out of boxing and singing. “I want to sing at Madison Square Garden and have soldout tickets,” she said. Donovan said he will always support his daughter to achieve her dreams, whatever those may be. “I want to see her go to the Olympics, but it wasn’t my
idea!” Donovan said. “I want to encourage her as long as she is interested in the sport, so if she changes her mind, that’s OK. She’s multitalented. Have you seen her sing?” Natalia said it herself: Eventually, she wants to qualify for and compete in the Olympics. And who knows? She may end up singing the national anthem.
Craig Cummings: by Missy Fitzwater
he Garrison Boxing Club, Kansas City’s newest boxing gym located in the Garrison Community Center, is where you will find one of the city’s most notable boxers. Craig Cummings is the head coach at Garrison and a staple in the KC boxing scene. Having walked the walk for most of his life, Cummings brings a wealth of insight and experience to impart to the youth of Kansas City. “Amateur boxing set me apart from the rest,” Cummings said when asked about the impact boxing had on him. “Being in a small town (Gallatin, Missouri) and getting attention in Kansas City for something seemed like a big deal to me. I got to travel the country and forge a tremendous bond with my dad.” Cummings began his amateur career at the tender, yet tough, age of 5. His dad, Tom Cummings, was his first trainer and coach.
He quickly became a rising star in the KC amateur boxing scene, eventually claiming seven Silver Gloves Championships and five Golden Gloves Championships. Cummings logged more than 130 fights by the end of his amateur career. At the age of 21, Cummings found himself at a crossroads. One path led to an attempt at making the Olympic Team; the other path led to a professional boxing debut. With the guidance of his father, Cummings chose the latter. Cummings would box his way to an illustrious professional career, fighting his way around the globe to register an impressive 61 bouts and earn a 53-7-1 record. He was notably ranked in the top 10 in the world by all of the major boxing
organizations. As Cummings’ professional career began winding down, he launched Danger-Fire Promotions. “I had so many friends and peers that wanted to begin a career, or continue one, that I almost felt obligated to provide them a vehicle,” he said. Cummings continued to be very active in the boxing community with this new venture, promoting and training local professional boxers. He also hosts several professional boxing shows annually. Outside the ring, Cummings fights fires for the KCMO Fire Department. It was in this role that he saw a need in the community he serves. Cummings said he witnessed lost youth who had succumbed to the perils of a desperate life.
Fighting for what matters From his vast boxing experience, he Thus, the wheels were set in motion. knew the sport could benefit the youth Cummings began searching for a in the community in an impactful, gym where he could volunteer his positive and life-altering manner. time and expertise. His vision was to be able to provide training to young boxers, free of charge. Consequently, in an act of serendipity, the KC Golden Gloves was in the process of opening gyms in two community centers in the core of Kansas City. They too had the vision of providing a cost-free boxing experience to the youth of Kansas City. And as they say… the rest is history. The growing number of boxers at the Garrison Boxing Club – and the “Boxing is the perfect sport for these surrounding community – is grateful kids,” he said. “Anyone can become to have a coach with an invaluable a boxer if they work hard enough. wealth of boxing know-how, and Determination is the key to success. the passion to share it with them. Boxing inherently teaches discipline Cummings has settled into his new and respect. It is goal oriented and gym, as the Garrison Boxing Club’s takes focus and commitment. These head coach. attributes can be applied to all aspects “Being here just feels right,” of life.” Cummings said. “It feels like home.”
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