On Wednesday night, the young boxers streamed into the Juneau Douglas Boxing Club gym in the Salmon Creek Professional Center and started working out.
Nicholas Danielson, 17, Anthony Manacio III, 20, and Trevis Dallas, 16, all started punching at heavy bags hanging in one end of the gym. Tanya Lerum, 15, was in the ring sparring with trainer Delfin Evenson, while 8-year-old Alesa Abbott and Ryan Braman were wrapping their hands so they could start working out.
Those boxers and about a dozen others have been getting ready for the inaugural Glacier Gloves Tournament, which takes place at 6 p.m. Friday at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.
The U.S. Amateur Boxing-sanctioned, Olympic-style event will feature boxers from Juneau, Sitka, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, competing in about 14-18 bouts, Juneau Douglas Boxing Club president Joe Isturis said. Of the 13 Juneau boxers on the roster for Friday's event, Isturis said about seven or eight will get bouts because of age and weight class restrictions set by the USAB. Friday's event is a non-smoking, no-alcohol event, and USAB officials from Tacoma, Wash., will be overseeing the fights.
"I would like to see the Juneau public support the youth involved in boxing like they support any other youth sport in Juneau," Isturis said.
The young boxers in the gym on Wednesday started boxing for a variety of reasons. Some have parents involved in the Roughhouse Friday series of fights. Others are involved in various other sports. And some just like being in the gym.
"It's great," said Manacio, a former high school wrestler who last sparred about 8-10 years ago in the Phillipines. "It's a lot different. In wrestling you have to be patient, but in boxing you've got to be aggressive or else you'll get hit. It keeps you away from trouble."
"I knew I had a lot of quick power, speed and accuracy," Dallas said. "It keeps you off the streets."
Danielson said a friend got him involved in boxing.
"I liked to fight a little bit," said Danielson, a junior at Juneau-Douglas High School. "It's a good workout and I get to hit people. It's fun."
Lerum's stepfather has been a judge during the Roughhouse Friday bouts, so when the gym reopened in January she decided to start boxing. Some of the coaches said she couldn't throw a proper punch when she first started, but now when she spars Lerum is backing her coaches around the ring.
"I haven't really done any other sports," said Lerum, who is looking forward to her first fight. "No girls here can spar with me, so I have to spar with the guys."
Josh Andrews, 12, is one of the few boxers who was involved with the club when it was run by coaches Ray Lee and Patrick Fagg (Lee is his uncle). When the club was closed, Andrews said he felt like a part of his life was missing.
"This is cool," Andrews said as he worked out with a heavy bag. "I've been doing this for about five years. I was really glad when it opened again. It was fun before, but now I'm having a lot more fun. When you're going in the ring, you're going to get hit. But it keeps me in shape and that gets me all the chicks."
William Evenson, 15, and his younger brother Daniel, 13, are second-generation boxers. Their father, Delfin Evenson, was an amateur boxer when he was younger and now he's been training both the young boxers and some Roughhouse Friday fighters.
"It just feels good to be here," William Evenson said. "I came here because I wanted to watch me dad, but now he said he's coming out of retirement so I get to work out with him."
Braman competes in several sports, but boxing has moved to the top of his list.
"I like to punch," Braman said. "I like boxing, then football, then soccer, then baseball."
Abbott's mother, Edna Abbott, has competed in a couple of Roughhouse Friday bouts. Alesa Abbott may be 8, like Braman, but she already knows what she likes about boxing.
"I like sparring, and getting the trophies," Abbott said.
General admission tickets for Friday's Glacier Gloves Tournament cost $10 for adults and $5 for children age 13-17. Children younger than 12 can get in free when accompanied by a parent. Ringside seats are $20. Tickets are available at ANB Hall.
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