The fists were flying as Golden Gloves boxing returned to Gloria’s Gym in Monroeville Mall Oct. 2.
Eight bouts with weight classes ranging from 70 pounds to 201 pounds-plus were held for the first time since 2019. It was the first live show at the gym since 2019, with two events scheduled for February 2020 canceled because of the covid-19 pandemic.
The Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League hosted 16 boxers from several local gyms, including Gloria’s Gym, Butler Cubs Boxing, 3rd Avenue Boxing, Sanctuary Boxing, Cave Boxing, Gold Medal Boxing, Steel Valley Boxing, Boyce Boxing, Boards Boxing and Stallworth Boxing Academy.
“Here at Monroeville Mall, with all the people that came this evening to our first show that was for 2021 after covid, this was a great turnout,” WPPAL’s Gloria Sztukowski said.
“Great matches that we had. Awesome boxing. It was top-notch with the kids. Just stepping into the ring, for a kid, I think they’re champions. This is the cathedral. That’s the place that it all happens, where they go to show their sport.”
Five of the eight fights went to the scorecards. Three ended because of referee stoppage, including one knockout and two TKOs.
Sztukowski did not provide an exact attendance figure, but said it was a capacity crowd.
Michael Williams, who won via knockout at 1:53 in the first round of the sixth bout, said boxing helped him improve his life after facing legal troubles in Atlanta.
The 25-year-old said he hopes similar live events inspire young people to get involved with the sport.
“The main thing that’s the most important about all of it is keeping the kids off the street,” Williams said.
“If kids don’t have hope, they can come to the boxing gym and get hope. When I was young, I didn’t have a lot of things. I didn’t have a lot of money. But one thing I did have, I had hope every time I was in that gym.”
“So, the only thing I put out to the kids, you can do anything. Put your mind to it and you’ll be able to do it. Boxing, for the whole community, is a great thing.”
Seth Derrick, 20, won the seventh fight via a close decision.
He started training just in the past six months, but said the sport is a primary reason he’s been able to overcome anxiety issues.
“I’ve always loved boxing, but I didn’t start until just recently,” Derrick said.
“I started when I was 19. But for me, it’s really changed my life around from where my life was before boxing and where it is now. It’s completely changed. I’d suggest boxing to anybody.”
The semifinals of the Golden Gloves will be held at Gloria’s Gym on Oct. 23 with a bell time of 6 p.m.
The championship will take place at the gym Oct. 30.
“Here at the Monroeville Mall, we really have a good relationship with them,” Sztukowski said.
“Great evening of amateur boxing following the USA boxing rules and regulations. The Golden Gloves, when you are boxing in the Golden Gloves, you really have bragging rights. I consider both of the boxers, blue corner or red corner, both champions for stepping into the ring.”
Wes Crosby is a Trib Total Media contributing writer.