Chonte Walker, 19, of Clovis, spars Wednesday at the boxing gym in the Roy Walker Community Center. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
For most of the 15 or so Clovis fighters who train at the Roy Walker Recreation Center, the hours of jumping rope, hitting the punching bag and sparring, the New Mexico Golden Gloves Tournament is the highlight of the year.
“For amateurs, this is the biggest event,” said tournament organizer Chuck Haas.
The tournament is back at Roy Walker on April 1-3 after a year in Albuquerque. Clovis hosted the event for 16 of the last 18 years.
Haas has been involved with Clovis boxing for nearly 50 years and photos adorn the compact training room in Roy Walker with fighters who’ve passed through.
Local boxers spend anywhere from five to 10 hours a week training, but Haas said they’ll push themselves in the week leading up to Golden Gloves.
Clovis’ Alijio Sena has won the tournament five or six times. His dad, George Sena, taught him the ropes and now coaches Sena and the other fighters.
“It’s just a passion,” Elijio Sena said. “I grew up around it.”
Chonte Walker, an airman first class at Cannon Air Force Base, also grew up around boxing in Kansas City, Mo.
She’s just hoping a fight materializes for her on the undercard. She’s been boxing since 2000 but has fought only 13 times.
“(The) only part that’s hard is finding a fight,” Walker said. Her father, Earl Walker, boxes professionally in Kansas City.
Haas expects anywhere from 50 to 70 boxers and hopes for 10 to 11 matches per day. Haas said locals who have had amateur fights may compete.
Winners advance to a regional tournament in Denver to compete against the Colorado state winners. The regional winners form a team for the national tournament May 15-21 in Little Rock, Ark.
What: New Mexico State Golden Gloves Tournament
Time: 7 p.m. April 1-2, 1:30 p.m. April 3
Where: Roy Walker Recreation Center, Clovis
Price: Adults: $7, under 18 years old $4.