State Golden Gloves tourney starts tonight

Elijio Sena trains at the Roy Walker Community Center on Thursday afternoon. Sena is scheduled to fight in the super-heavyweight division of the state Golden Gloves tournament this weekend. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

Until the fighters start actually showing up, beginning this morning, Chuck Haas can never quite be sure how good the turnout for the state Golden Gloves boxing competition will be.

But the 83-year-old Clovis resident, who’s been involved in Golden Gloves for 60 years, knows by now how to estimate and he figures that this weekend’s event will have plenty of participants.

The 59th annual state Golden Gloves tournament begins at 7 p.m. today at Roy Walker Community Center. The event continues at 7 p.m. Saturday, with championship bouts starting at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $4 for 18-and-under.

“I expect a real good turnout,” said Haas, the state Golden Gloves president. “I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls — lots of phone calls.

“The concern was, ‘Are we going to have it? Or did it go with the tornado?’”

Winners of this weekend’s weight classes advance to a regional competition with winners from Colorado. Those victors then go on to the national Golden Gloves tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn.

An extra carrot for national Golden Gloves winners is that they’ll be invited to the Olympic trials in late summer as the next Summer Olympics looms just over a year away.

Golden Gloves, according to national Director of Operations John Van Sickler, is one of several avenues a pugilist can gain entry to the U.S. Olympic trials.

While it may seem like a rather large dream for local boxers to go that far, Van Sickler and Haas said the amount of entries at the state Golden Gloves event increases when the Olympic trials are part of the equation.

“What tends to happen, in an Olympic-qualifying year, you do have more kids in the gym because it’s the big shot,” said Van Sickler, who lives in Albuquerque.

“I imagine some of the old-timers will come out of the woodwork,” Haas said. “Some of the guys that fought four or five years ago, then maybe took off, see the Olympic trials and say, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll try it again.’”

Haas said this will be the 20th year for Clovis hosting the state competition.

Last year, five Clovis fighters advanced to championship fights and two — Edgar Zubia at 125 pounds and Elias Huerta at 152 pounds — won state titles. Both are expected back this weekend to defend their state crowns.

“We’ll have ’em from Clovis, Hobbs, Roswell, Las Cruces,” Haas said. “I think the eastern side of the state will bring the most (fighters), but I’ve had numerous calls from different clubs in Albuquerque.

“How many they will bring, I don’t know. I know that Bloomfield will be here from up north and Santa Fe and Las Vegas may bring a few also.”