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How to Be a Golden Gloves Champion

By Jeff Gordon

Amateur boxers can start their careers by competing in the local tournaments sponsored by the 30 Golden Gloves franchises around the country. The local winners advance to national events hosted by the Golden Gloves of America. Many national Golden Glove champions have gone on to international amateur and professional boxing success, including Joe Louis, Muhammed Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Oscar De La Hoya.

Getting Started

The best path to the Golden Gloves tournaments goes through one of the hundreds of established boxing clubs regularly sending competitors those events. Join a club and join USA Boxing, the sanctioning body for amateur boxing. Buy a comfortable mouth piece, get your own hand wraps and perhaps your own gloves as well. Work with a credible trainer to learn the boxing basics and how to train properly. Once you develop good footwork, punching technique, defensive skills and ring endurance, start sparring against other novices. As you progress, spar against more accomplished boxers to get ring ready.

Getting Into Fighting Shape

Novice boxing features 2-minute rounds with a minute of rest and the open division has 3-minute rounds. Work toward a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 work/rest ratio with your conditioning work. Interval sprints, stair and hill running, strongman circuits, punching bag work and weighted/bodyweight circuits develop anaerobic and strength/power endurance. Fast backpedaling is a valuable exercise, as is throwing punches while running.

Identify Your Division

Golden Glove tournaments feature a novice division for beginners and open division for veteran amateur boxers. You will start with the novices unless you have extensive amateur experience. The weight classes are 108, 114, 123, 132, 141, 152, 165, 178, 201 pounds and 202 pounds and up. Fight in the lightest classification possible without sapping your strength with excessive weight loss. If you advance through the bracket at the local level you can advance to national events.

Be Wary of the Veterans

The top Golden Glove boxers in the open division have years of amateur experience. For instance, Brian Ceballo has won three titles in New York. He broke his hand at the national Golden Gloves event, but came back to win at the World Championships team trial and the World Series of Boxing. Now he is aiming to become another Golden Gloves participant to box for the U.S. at the Olympics. "It's hard work, it doesn't happen overnight," Ceballo told the New York Daily News. "I've been boxing 10 or 11 years now and I think I have a pretty good shot since I have first crack at making the team."

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