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The road to get here is long and tough. Contrary to what some might believe, not everyone can do it. It takes months of preparation, for the most dedicated of these young athletes, to reach the pinnacle of perfection. The stage is set: Kansas City, Missouri for the National Silver Gloves Amateur Boxing tournament. The world of boxing can be a trying, stressful environment. Not all spectators can understand how a parent is able to be an active participant in a sport where seemingly kids beat up other kids. What they don’t see is the majority of parents who are their kids’ coaches, the bond these fathers/coaches form and nurture with the kids, and the sacrifice, discipline and good sportsmanship that the sport of boxing instills in these young boys.

At boxing tournaments around the state, region, and country, the majority of young boxers are taught to have good sportsmanship. On one particular occasion, I’ve witnessed a young boy express his displeasure at losing a fight and walked away immediately in frustration, refusing to shake hands with his opponent, which is the customary gesture that coaches encourage. The young boxer’s coach was very dismayed at this, and after a few minutes, when both boys were already out of the ring, had his boxer go over and do the right thing: shake hands. I’ve seen some punches being thrown, inadvertently and just in the heat of battle, after the bell had rung and boxers’ first reaction is to lose their temper and respond negatively back, but they don’t; they learn to keep their emotions in check. Of course, in every sport, there is a winner and there is someone that has to be on the losing end of things. It’s hard to watch other boys weep at the fact that they’ve lost. As a parent, my motherly instincts kick in and I even briefly tear up and want to give them a hug and tell them it’ll be okay. It’s especially difficult when it’s your own child that experiences this. But I think it’s good for these boys to go through all that this sport, and any other sport, encompasses, the highs and lows of it all: the joys of winning and the heartbreak of losing. It teaches them to respect the sport. It teaches them to get back up and keep on going, whether it’s the next day, the next competition, or the next year.

Boxing is not as brutal as some people think, not at the younger amateur level anyway. But those involved, whether as active supporters of their children or parents coaching their children, ultimately do this because they believe in their kids. They believe that their children possess what it takes to go far in boxing. They believe that this might be their child’s future. It takes a special, talented youngster to advance to regional and national levels of boxing. Some of these kids have big dreams: to be able to represent their country in the Olympic games, to be the next Muhammad Ali, or just to win the coveted National Silver Gloves title and be able to claim that they are the best in their division. They’ve begun the journey, and although not all will succeed, no doubt they will try with everything they have inside of them.

(This was written when my son competed in the National Silver Gloves tournament March 10-12 of this year in Kansas City, MO. He advanced to the championship match, where he met up with a very tough, experienced opponent and lost. He is ranked 2nd in the 12-13 year old 80 lb. division.)