March Madness takes on a different meaning for local boxing fans. This year’s Indiana Golden Gloves tournament will once again also include the Junior Gloves, a tournament involving young boxers ages 8-16. So far, 52 boys have signed up to box. These fights will be interspersed within the regular tournament, in which 148 senior boxers will enter the ring, including 15 female boxers.

According to George DeFabis, former president of the Indiana Golden Gloves, this year’s tournament promises to be a good one. “We have more entries this year than last. It promises to be a highly competitive tournament, with approximately 21 fights a night.”

Since 1930, Indiana has produced 24 national champions, two of whom became world champions, including three-time light heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson. (In 1976, Cincinnati’s Aaron Pryor represented Indiana and later became the light welterweight champion, from 1980 to 1985.) The former World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion and Indianapolis native Lamon Brewster won the Indiana State Golden Gloves title.

The Indiana team is due for a future champion. The last national champion from Indiana was Lafayette’s Darnell Wilson, who won the 156-pound championship in 1993.

Returning are several of last year’s champions. 2007 super-heavyweight champion Josh O’Brien will defend his title, as will Lafayette’s Travis Depew and Frankfort’s Ray Lucies.

But this tournament produces more than boxers. Through this competition, the Indiana Golden Gloves awards five $1,000 scholarships to its fighters. Boxers need not win fights to win scholarships. The Gloves rewards boxers who maintain good grades and show an interest in pursuing an education.

The Golden Gloves takes place each Thursday, beginning March 13 and running through April 17, the championship night. The senior boxers, ages 17-34, will compete in the usual divisions: Open, Junior Open, Novice and Sub-Novice. The Open champions will compete in the national tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich., May 5-10.

Each night will feature 21 to 23 fights. In an age of sky-high prices for sporting events, the Gloves’ tickets are hard to beat.

Ringside seats are $12 and $10 for general admission. As a bonus, for $60 fans can purchase ringside seats for the six sessions. DeFabis adds that the ringside seats for the final two weeks sell out in advance. So, don’t wait to buy tickets.

Tickets are available through TicketMaster, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds box office or through Jason Spears (jasgoldengloves@sbcglobal.net or ingoldenglovesfd@yahoo.com or 317-838-7436). They will also be available at the Tyndall Armory on the night of the fights.

Indiana Golden Gloves

Tyndall Armory, 711 N. Pennsylvania St.

Each Thursday, beginning March 13; Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; fights begin at 7:30 p.m.

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