By Charles Jay
Boxing Insider Fight Night.
That has a nice “ring” to it.
In a minute, I’m going to talk a little more about my friend and colleague who’s behind it. For now, suffice it to say that he’s jumping right into the deep end of the pool and he’s doing it with a considerable degree of panache.
And in the process, his event has become part of one of the bigger boxing weekends New York City has seen in a while, culminating in the much-anticipated clash for the women’s lightweight title between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, which takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Sure, that might ultimately serve as the main course for some people, but there’s quite an appetizer in the offing on Thursday night as USA Boxing Metro (the governing body for amateur boxing in the city and the surrounding area), along with Boxing Insider, presents an installment in the Ring Masters championship tournament, with functions as an official National Golden Gloves qualifier (show time at 7 PM, doors open at 6 PM).
And boy have they come up with a first-class venue. Sony Hall (235 W. 46th Street) is one of the premier venues for live events in Manhattan, located right off Times Square. It’s in the Broadway theater district. Let’s put it this way – if there was a matinee of the world-renowned musical “Hamilton” on Thursday (there isn’t), you could go to that and walk right across the street and into Boxing Insider Fight Night.
I am largely engaged in the business of making predictions. My prediction is that you’d have a better time with the boxing.
And you’ll be helping the overall community to boot.
What I’ve noticed is that there are sixteen different clubs within the USA Boxing Metro area that are being represented at the show. That, in and of itself, represents an incredible amount of volunteerism.
For those of you who might not realize how amateur boxing works, the vast majority of the people involved in engine run – and by that I mean the trainers, corner people, officials, administrators, and even those who promote these shows – has a full-time occupation outside of boxing, and they devote their time and effort to this pursuit essentially on a volunteer basis. They work with the youngsters. They undertake all the travel. They take long bus rides, if that’s what they have to do. They give a lot.
And when it comes down to it, they all have something in common, in that they are doing it because they have a great love and appreciation for boxing. They are dedicated to growing the sport. If you observe these people and what they do, as I did while involved in amateur boxing shows, you ask yourself, “How do they do it? How do they get the energy to put forth all this time and labor, which is a precious thing?”
Fortunately they find it. And everyone’s a little luckier for it.
Sure, whenever you get a bunch of people together, politics has the potential to creep into it. This is not untrue on the national or world level, and you may have read about it from time to time.
But nobody should confuse this with the often cutthroat world of professional boxing. This isn’t a bloody battle between adversaries as they chase the almighty dollar. No one is getting rich here. When it really comes down to it, as you’re talking about the Local Boxing Committee (LBC) level, everybody’s oar is in the water, stroking more or less in the same direction.
And that, I believe, deserves your support.
When Larry Goldberg, the publisher of Boxing Insider, told me he was going to take the journey into presenting this show scheduled for Thursday, and more events subsequent to that, I encouraged him all the way.
And in my opinion, he couldn’t have been in better hands.
Sonya Lamonakis is the Vice President & Registration Chair for USA Boxing Metro (Ray Cuadrado is the president). You may remember her from her days when she was an active pro boxer; indeed, she was he IBO’s female world heavyweight champion.
These days, she’s one of those people I referred to a second ago. She has a full-time job as a schoolteacher in the New York City Public Schools, and on top of that, for all intents and purposes, her and her team handle the details on all of these local shows from A to Z. And in case there’s any doubt, there are quite a few shows to coordinate.
She is, to put it simply, indispensable.
I’ve been associated with Boxing Insider and Larry Goldberg, off and on, for about twenty years. So let’s just say I’ve practically watched him grow up.
And one day, after many years having published his site, he decided he was going to so something not a lot of people in his position would do. He decided he was going to learn everything he could about the nuts and bolts of this sport, and the business behind it.
He started by working out in boxing gyms, primarily Mendez Boxing on East 26th Street, under the tutelage of real, live, legitimate trainers like Jose Guzman and Henry DeLeon. At first, I didn’t think he was serious, but after he showed me a few nicks and bruises from his sparring sessions, I became a believer.
That’s the kind of activity that fosters some new-found appreciation for the sport. And so now he’s putting his money where his mouth is, by moving into the area of promotions, which brings a whole new set of things to discover.
He’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He’s dripping with enthusiasm. And if you ask me, he’s handling it like a world contender.
He’s now taking part. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that amateur boxing needs to make a “comeback,” particularly in the New York area, it doesn’t hurt to have more people who can help solidify the foundation, because it is so important for the sport to thrive. It does keep kids out of trouble. It does change lives. And that’s what my friend is contributing to.
So I’m proud of the guy. And he’s going to be around for a while.
So if you’re not doing anything on Thursday night, come to the Sony Hall. And if you DO have plans, change them. It’ll be worth your while.
When you get there, find Larry or Sonya (or any of the participants, for that matter) and tell them you appreciate what they’re doing.
It’ll mean a lot.