- The dream meets reality today for two area American Indian boxers.
an eye toward Olympic glory and the accompanying lucrative financial
rewards, Ignacio boxers Frank Richards and Jordan Rael, both Southern
Ute Tribal Members, step into the ring today for the first round
of the Western National Boxing Championships in Bakersfield, Calif.
The tournament will run through Saturday.
and Rael received invitations as a result of meeting minimum experience
and victory qualifications. Should they win their respective weight
divisions in the tournament, they will advance to the Olympic Boxing
Trials later this month in Tunica, Miss.
is the gate to the Olympic Trials that we needed to have,"
said George Manzanares, coach of George's Independent Boxing Club
a shot that we're elated to have."
are eight slots in each of the 11 Olympic weight divisions. All
but the Western Nationals champion's slot has been filled in each
Rael and Richards are inexperienced by national-caliber standards,
touting only seven bouts each. Experience isn't everything, however
- especially in boxing, where conditioning and determination often
overcome veteran ringmanship.
think I'll probably do pretty good," said Rael, 17,who will
compete in the bantamweight (119) ranks. "I think I can win
my first couple of fights and make it to the finals."
once there, anything can happen, as both Rael and Manzanares know.
his lack of bouts, Rael (5-2) does have big tournament experience,
albeit not on the national stage. Rael was a finalist in the 2001
state Silver Gloves championships held at Pueblo.
will help with nervousness," he said.
thinks he has another facet to his game that will prove beneficial.
left-handed, I can give them a liver shot."
(6-1) doesn't even have that much to rely upon, but he will carry
something into the ring that Rael won't - bonafide knockout power.
The light heavyweight (178 pounds) has stopped half of his opponents.
looking good in his workouts," Manzanares said. "He's
got a lot of power even though he doesn't have the experience.
determined he's going to go out there and win," Manzanares
for Rael, son of Rebecca Rael, Manzanares said, "He's been
a tough little fighter for me. He's quick, fast and he's a thinker.
He's got some good combinations, too. I think if I can get him focused
when he goes into the ring, he'll come out all right."
out all right" can mean being victorious or, as Manzanares
knows in a tournament such as the Western Nationals, just coming
out of the ring by their own power instead of being wheeled out
on a gurney.
are going to be running into some world-class competition,"
noted Manzanares, who has been a boxing coach for more than 40 years.
see boxers who have been training harder for longer and who have
five times the experience. They'll be running into some tip-top
competition with a lot of experience, period."