By K.D. Norris
The Wyoming Pride Boxing Club is housed in a nondescript older building barely large enough for a ring, located off the street and in the back of other older buildings in Wyoming’s Porter street neighborhood — you can take a rock and hit the GM Components industrial area.
But on a recent Thursday evening, there were about 20 young boxers of various ages — and various ability to fit into boxing gloves let alone actually know how to use them — with club director Alex Fernandez and head trainer Dominic Marsiglia bouncing around giving instruction here and correction there.
Also at the club that day were three of the four boxers from the club who made the finals of the Western Michigan tournament and will be fighting for the Michigan State Golden Gloves title this weekend; each staying loose, staying sharp and focused on their individual goals.
“It feels great, yes (to have four boxers in the finals),” Fernandez said. “It is rare, to have four fighters going into the state (finals) tournament, three of them were West Michigan champions and they all have a chance to win the title, and three of them are in the Open Division. Any one of them can win a state title, in that Open Division, and move on to the nationals — and get nationally recognized.”
WKTV will continue its coverage of the Golden Gloves Boxing Championships Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, with the state title bouts from The DeltaPlex Arena and Conference Center.
The start tournament has both Open and Novice divisions. The three Wyoming Pride boxers fighting in the Open Division are Aneudy “Junior” Rios in the 123-pound class, Cody Cross in the 178-pound class, and Monclairson “Haiti” Colas in the heavyweight (201 plus pounds).
Justin Pierce, the youngest of the four boxers at 18-years old, and with just two fights under his belt, will be fighting in as a novice in the 152-pound class.
For the 20-year-old Rios, the state tournament will be a continuation of a young career that already includes a novice title. For Cross and Colas, it is a chance to regain titles they held but lost.
For Pierce, it is all pretty new — he won both his Western Michigan tournament fights by decision — but he has learned some lessons quickly.
“It was a lot of nerves involved,” Pierce said of his first fight. “However, the nerves, that is always going to be there. That’s what I hear from the more experienced fighters. I don’t think that is ever going to go away, … (but) it was like a few pounds were lifted off my shoulders when I got the first fight out the way. It just made me feel good when I got my hand raised at the end of the bout.”
And what lesson will he carry into he finals?
“Stay relaxed and remain calm,” Pierce said. “Even if you lose one round, remember you still have two more rounds to go, to make up the difference. You don’t win a fight in one round, nor do you loose a fight in one round. A fight is all three rounds. You have to fight hard from round one to round three. That’s what I learned.”
Both Cross, at age 26, and Colas, at 25, have also learned lessons — titles and then lessons. Now they both have the goal of using those experiences to again gain titles.
Cross fought and won a state title as a novice in 2014 and was a 2015 Open state champion, but last year … “Last year, I fell short,” he said. This year, “I would like to repeat (his state open title), I hope so. Getting it is the goal now. Then from there, I’ll move on to another goal.”
Cross finished second in the Western Michigan tournament and will fight the winner of the Eastern Michigan tournament in this week’s opening round action.
Colas — then nickname “Haiti” comes from a past coworker who could not pronounce his French first name and, somehow, came up with “Young Haiti” — had a walk over in his first Western Michigan tournament fight and then won the title by abandonment (his opponent’s corner stopped the fight), so he will fight the runner-up from the Eastern Michigan side.
But he, too, was a 2015 Novice champ but he fell short of an Open title last year, learned some lessons, and also has a little something to prove this year.
“Now I have had more fights and we made adjustments for the (Western Michigan) tournament,” he said. “This year, I am more confident because I lost last year, so I am going to redeem myself.”
WKTV’s coverage will be broadcast on Live Wire Comcast Channel 24 with a tape delayed airing of each evening’s bouts the following day: the Friday, April 21, bouts will air Saturday, April 22, at noon; and the Saturday, April 22, bouts will air Sunday, April 23, at 6 p.m.