USA Boxing, the national governing body of amateur boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) and as a national governing body it is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee. It is responsible for the administration, development and promotion of Olympic-style boxing in the U. S.
With its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, it sponsors a host of programs to develop and promote the sport. It sponsors national and international competitions to select teams for events which include the Olympic Games, World Championships and Pan American Games.
Even though USA Boxing has now won 109 Medals in Olympic competition, ranking first among all nations, they haven’t been doing well as of late. In the 2012 Olympics, the U. S. A. team escaped complete embarrassment when two young ladies 17 year-old Claressa Shields won a Gold Medal and 21 year-old Marlen Esparza won a Bronze for Team USA. Some of the famous athletes who have emerged from the ranks of USA Boxing include Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar de la Hoya.
Like the drought in California, the U. S.’s inability to win medals in Boxing appears to be worsening. In 2008, heavyweight Deontay Wilder secured a Bronze Medal. In 2004, Andre Ward won a Gold Medal and Andre Dirrell a Bronze. At this point it would be fruitless to continue. If you need to point fingers, those fingers should point at the folks of USA Amateur Boxing.
How so? USA Boxing authorizes, recognizes, and insures 57 Local Boxing Committees (LBCs), which are grouped into 14 regions, and in that number you have LBC 44 which covers both San Diego and Imperial Counties. This LBC, along with it’s coaches, athletes, and officials constitute what you’d call the grassroots of local boxing.
On Saturday, July 25, 2015, LBC 44 held a “Coaches only meeting.” The email from it’s newly elected President, Hondo Fontan got straight to the point: “LBC 44’s MANDATORY COACHES MEETING! I need ALL COACHES to attend. If you cannot attend, you need to send a representative. There are certain issues/topics that we need to address and begin working on for the common good of our Athletes, Gyms & LBC.”
After traversing some early minefields, this General George Patton like administrator has been getting high marks for his leadership. Unlike England’s Prince Albert (the royal who was played by Colin Firth in that movie – The King’s Speech) it’s doubtful Fontan will ever need an assist from Geoffrey Rush, the speech therapist.
An analysis of Fontan’s leadership style: to his credit Fontan has been able to make things happen by encouraging and channeling the contributions of others. He’s taken a stand on and then addressed the important issues. He navigates the troubled waters by being prepared. He’s sensitive to how things are evolving. In other words he’s not afraid of innovation.
If you were one of the 25 gyms without representation at this meeting, for shame. Just like a stockholders meeting of a large corporation, those present were prepared to move ahead with or without your input.
At this time, we’ll try to give you a rundown of what happened. With his agenda in hand, the LBC-44 President began: “Everything is a work in progress, which sounds like an excuse, but as your leader I was hoping for an even bigger turnout.”
The group then began a discussion concerning the organization’s present difficulties and how best to eliminate these headaches. The answer kept coming back to more communication. Then, there was a positive discussion regarding the glut of quality, up and coming boxers in San Diego and Imperial County and despite all the talk about Boxing being on the decline, and taking a back seat to MMA, that notion was quickly dispelled. If you’re a statistician and like to keep track of things by the number; over the past two years, within the LBC 44’s jurisdiction, there have been 15 new boxing gyms open, three closed and three new gyms are about to open.
Fontan: “There’s no reason why our boxers and coaches have to travel north to Los Angeles or out of state for these national tournaments. For instance, we can host the Silver Gloves and with our upcoming show on August 15th, Joe Vargas and The Arena are going to show you how our shows can attract much larger crowds. Just as Victory MMA did with their show at the Fluxx Night Club. Their show sold-out and made a ton of money.
“In August alone, we have four shows scheduled. Simply put, there is no reason why LBC-44 gyms can’t compete with the LA crowd and save our local boxers and more importantly their supporters, from forking over all this money for travel expenses.
“We also want you to know we now have in place a policy where we pay half the boxer’s plane fare for a National Tournament, plus we pay half of their lodging. And, in some cases we can even offer you a per diem, a daily allowance for expenses. We’ve also negotiated a great price for the required Ambulance service for all shows. Your local LBC will pay half of that cost. Changes are being made. All we have to do is communicate.”
In regards to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, LBC-44 currently has four boxers, two male, two female with a shot at representing our country. They are Genaro Gamez, Danyelle Wolf, Stalacia Leggett, Abraham Martinez. I’ll bet some or most of you didn’t know that. You and I need to be informed about these things.”
Here’s an outline of the competitions which lead to being selected to the USA Olympic Boxing Team:
Men – 10 Olympic Weight Divisions
1) Chattanooga, Tennessee Men’s Event, December, 2014 – one boxer chosen
2) USA National Championships Spokane, Washington, January, 2015 – one boxer
3) Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 20-27 – two boxers
4) Baltimore, Maryland, September 5-12 – two boxers were to be selected but the event has now been cancelled
5) Memphis, Tennessee, October 24-31 – two boxers
6) Men’s Olympic Trials, December date with the location to be announced – eight boxers in each weight division will compete in a double elimination tournament.
It should be noted the current Men’s National Team will be competing in the 2015 AIBA World Championships in Doha, Qatar on October 5-18. If any USA Boxer qualifies at this event, then that weight division will be not be contested at the December Men’s Olympic Trials.
Women – three Olympic Weight Divisions
1) USA National Championships Spokane, Washington, January, 2015 – two boxers
2) Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 20-27 – three boxers
3) Baltimore, Maryland September 5-12 – three boxers were to be selected – an event now in limbo.
Women’s Olympic Trials, Memphis, Tennessee October 24-31 – eight boxers in each weight division will compete in a double elimination tournament.
Advisory from USA Amateur Boxing, Colorado Springs: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, the men’s portion of the Pathway to Glory Olympic Trials Qualifier II of September 7th through the 12th in Baltimore, Maryland, has been postponed.”
A discussion ensued regarding the requirement of once a year physicals for the safety of the boxers which led to the revelation that one boxer recently fought without adhering to the regulation of abstaining from sparring and competition for 30 days after he was ko’d.
Fontan: “Whereas LBC-44’s boxing program prides itself on enforcing the rules, we often hear about these transgressions in other LBCs especially when our boxers travel north to Los Angeles to compete. An official who would allow this to happen should change his moniker to, “Safety not Guaranteed,” especially after failing to correctly check the boxer’s white passbook.
“We believe in keeping our boxers safe!! If a restriction has been placed on a boxer that boxer MUST NOT “train” or “spar” during the restricted period per Rule 18.104.22.168. All protective measures must apply if a Knockout and/or concussion occurs during training or anywhere. The Coach is responsible to report all incidents to USA Boxing.
“Let it be known that in our LBC, there will be no skirting of the rules. If you’re not familiar with the rules concerning the safety of an athlete, then you need to read the regulations.
“This is the reason you have USA Boxing and state Athletic Commissions so the rules are followed and young people do not have their health put in jeopardy. The sport of boxing needs more compliance, not less compliance. If known, the coach or coaches plus the official responsible for this oversight should have been reprimanded or maybe even suspended.
“That reminds me, there will be a “Coaches Clinic” on Saturday, August 8, 2015 at 9 a.m. Several local coaches need to attend in order to earn their certification to qualify to be in the corner during any USA Amateur event. Without the proper certification you will be barred from being in that corner.”
Also at Saturday’s con-flab, the coaches had an opportunity to talk about past differences. Just like my father used to say, “It’s easy to mistrust, even hate the man who lives at the end of the street. Why? Because you have never gotten to know him.” On Saturday, we saw coaches shaking hands and listening to one another. One coach was overheard saying, “I never knew that. So that’s why your boxers had to pull out of the show?”
Through this meeting and the various conversations that took place, we saw several fences being mended.