The 2016 Dallas Golden Gloves: Our Club’s Visit to the Twilight Zone
The crowd booed, louder than our coach had ever heard a crowd boo a decision at the Golden Gloves. Even the ladies in the snack bar booed…
The Golden Gloves — long considered the ultimate tournament for boxers. The place to prove yourself. The place to show your skill. The Bar Mitzvah for working-family kids.
But the place to learn hard lessons in politics and partiality?
The Dallas Regional Golden Gloves tournament was not held in Dallas, but in the suburb of Garland. Why? We don’t know. And why at the local Hella Shrine Temple, which isn’t large enough to accommodate so many fans? We don’t know that either. Not only is the location anything but prime, but our club, along with many of the other clubs participating, didn’t appreciate being treated rudely by the staff hosting the event.
Our gym took 23 fighters to the Dallas Golden Gloves. Our youngest fighter is 10. All clubs were required to be there at 9:00 AM, and the temperature outside was 29 degrees, with a cold wind blowing. Every team was required to wait outside until each specific team was called for weigh-ins. So our kids froze, standing outside under the words written in big letters on the side of the building — SHRINERS CARE FOR KIDS. Ironic? After 20 minutes, our coach asked if the kids could come inside the building, and was told by the “door guard” that we “didn’t have to participate at this event. It was our choice. We could wait in the car.” So the kids went back to the car, but our coach waited in the cold, as someone had to listen for the teams to be called.
Several of our fighters received outlandish decisions that left people shaking their heads in confusion. Weren’t the judges watching the same fights that everyone else saw? During the tournament, we watched three of our best fighters go down to very questionable decisions. OK, sometimes it rolls that way.
But in watching our 16-year-old heavyweight beat his opponent to a pulp for three whole rounds, our coach wondered why the fight wasn’t stopped? It was so bad he was afraid the other kid would get hurt. But the fight proceeded for the full three rounds. And the decision: the other boxer was given the win! Really?
The crowd booed, louder than our coach had ever heard a crowd boo a decision at the Golden Gloves. Even the ladies in the snack bar booed. And as the crowd kept booing, the decision was changed! What a strange and bizarre scene that was.
Then one of our other boxers fought at an open 165, against a young man whose greatest skill was holding on to our fighter’s body for dear life. At one point, the other boxer held on so tight that when he released his hold, he ripped our boxer’s shirt off his chest, and the fight was paused to change shirts. Seriously? Another sight our coach had never seen in boxing. Finally, the one boxer had a point deducted. But then a point was deducted from us as well. Why? Your guess is as good as ours.
During this fight, the opponent put his arms around our boxer’s waist in a hugging fashion, picked him up (feet off the ground), and flipped him onto the canvas on his back, like a wrestling move. Was there a penalty given? No.But our fighter who was flipped was given an eight-count. An eight-count! For being subjected to a wrestling take-down in the boxing ring? Wow!
Later in the fight, our boxer hit his opponent with a well-placed uppercut, and he went down. But guess what? No eight-count! It was ruled a slip!
Our fighter was the taller, bigger opponent. He scored more punches than the other fighter. But when it went to the decision, who won the fight? Yep, you guessed it.The other guy was awarded the win.
Issues brought up by coaches weren’t properly addressed, even safety concerns. Our coach was informed that a young man on another team had been a professional boxer with too many losses on his record, so he changed his name and was now fighting as a novice. We had eyewitnesses and text messages confirming our accusation. Our coach informed the officials, who spoke with the boxer, who denied everything. “Your fighter has to box him,” our coach was told.
A novice fighting for the first time ever had to fight a former professional? Why didn’t the officials investigate? Where was the concern for the safety of the boxers? Our coach decided to withdraw our boxer from the fight, to keep him safe. Of course, the pro boxer took the win by default, and proceeded on in the tournament.
Why was there so much bias, and so many bizarre decisions at the Dallas Golden Gloves? Boxers, coaches, and parents of boxers continue to ask that question. One reason might be the recent USA Boxing officer elections for the Dallas area. Maybe the results didn’t sit well with some, and maybe the relationships between the clubs has been tainted. This program is for the kids, but is run by adult volunteers and volunteer organizations. Yet the volunteers sometimes get in the way, and the kids are the ones who suffer. We all share common goals — the welfare, safety, and good-sportsmanship of our boxers. But apparently at the Golden Gloves, there are private agendas at play.
The System is Flawed
1) The Golden Gloves is a franchise, and not a non-profit organization.
2) The system is antiquated, and lacks usage of modern devices such as score boards, instant video replay, or other marking systems.
3) The money raised from the Golden Gloves does not go back to the program.
1) Make the judging process more transparent, as in the Olympics. Let the coaches and the crowd see the score as it occurs.
2) Make use of instant replay — other sports use it. This would ensure the correct calls are made.
3) Revamp the system so there is accountability and consistency in applying the rules and awarding the proper decisions.
4) Maybe if there were no elections, but appointments instead, the private agendas would be eliminated.
Will our club fight in the Dallas Golden Gloves next year? Maybe not. What a shame.