(JAN 21) On January 19, 2006, at the Greentree Radisson, the
beginning round of the Allegheny Mountain Association Amateur Open
Boxing Tournament began, lacking only one thing – more amateur women
boxing matches; but, to my surprise, there was one 145-pound women’s
match, just prior to the intermission that really caught this
writer’s attention, when young Kelly Michel, who trains at The
Martial Arts and Sports Complex from nearby Bridgeville, at the
tender age of 15 years, stepped into the ring for already the second
time in her very early amateur ring career, fighting out of the red
Naturally, for Michel, she was nervous, since she was fighting for
the first time in a year; but, nevertheless, she had to overcome
those beginning ‘butterflies’ that all who dare to box have, during
the beginning, but Michel did quite well, in spite of not getting
the decision against another fine young woman boxer in Sherrice
Smith, from Cleveland, Ohio, in the blue corner.
In a match that went the distance of three 2-minute rounds, these
two young girls did not disappoint the enthusiastic crowd of
supporters. There was only one critic of Michel’s performance –
herself, when she was somewhat dejected, as if she let her family
and friends down; but, to the contrary, there was no critic, other
than Michel, herself. As a matter of fact, even Smith, who is
trained by her dad, Donyelle Smith, congratulated and encouraged
Michel to ‘keep on, keeping on’.
It was a gracious winner, consoling another gracious winner, since
there is no loser, in anyone that dares to don a pair of boxing
gloves and step inside, between the ropes.
Being that these two winners are very young, it is certain that they
will meet again; and, with that said, all anyone can say is, “You
Allegheny Mountain Amateur
Tournament: Round 2
– GREENTREE – As far as the rest of
the card went, the remaining 11 action-packed bouts were as follows:
The first bout of the evening was a
championship match, between two 95-pound straw weights, with
Michael Conway, from Carrick Community Boxing Academy
walking away with the hardware, getting the decision over a tough
Casey McCoy, from the West Allegheny Fighting Academy,
in three 1-minute rounds.
The second bout was
a semi-final match at 106 pounds, between Gerald Sherrell,
from 3rd Avenue Boxing Gym and Dustin
Newton, from Ellwood City, with Sherrell making short
work of Newton, in a scheduled three 1-minute round match, when the
referee stopped the contest early in the first round.
The third bout was
at 178 pounds and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds, between
John Senkinc of The Wolfpack Boxing Club and
Brian Smith from Sharpsburg VFW, with Smith
getting the decision.
The fourth bout was
between two featherweights, at 125 pounds, with a tall, lanky
Denzel Smith, coming all the way from the SABA,
short for the Salvation Army Boxing Academy in Cleveland,
Ohio, against a medallist and local favorite, Sean Conway,
from Carrick, and scheduled for three 2-minute rounds. On this
night, the taller Smith effectively used his reach advantage,
establishing a jab that never let the shorter Conway get set or
inside, thus giving Smith the decision.
earlier, the fifth and last bout before the intermission, was
between two young ladies at 145 pounds, with Sherrice
Smith, the sister of Denzel Smith, getting the
decision over courageous Kelly Michel, a fifteen year
old, from Wolfpack Boxing Club, in nearby
Bridgeville, fighting in only her second amateur bout.
In spite of the
decision, this writer was quite impressed with the performance of
Michel, who already has extremely powerful legs, the likes of which
are usually seen on professional women boxers, like Isra
Girgrah or Melissa ‘Honey Girl’ Del Valle. According to
her dad, Michel’s strong legs are a result of years of playing
soccer, as well as some karate.
In time, Michel
will only get better; and, at the age of 21, she could possibly find
herself in London in the 2012 Olympics, fighting for the first time
in female competition against the best women amateur boxers the
world has to offer.
As for Smith, whom
Donyelle Smith, her father, trains, she too could be
in the same position, as an Olympian in 2012; but, in the meantime,
the fighting Smith family reminds this writer of another boxing
family – the battling Byrd family from Las Vegas, Nevada, with
Chris Byrd, the IBF Heavyweight Champion, and Tracy
‘The Lady’ Byrd, fighting in the lightweight division.
It is just another
example of the old adage of ‘Like father, like son’, with an
additional adage of ‘Like brother, like sister’, which surely
keeps Donyelle Smith busy.
Allegheny Mountain Amateur Tournament:
– GREENTREE – On this second night
of amateur boxing action, there was a scheduled women’s bout,
between Ashlei Jaquay
but, unfortunately, the bout had to be dropped; nevertheless, there
were eight exciting matches this evening, which were the following:
The first bout
was a match between Michael Conway from Carrick
Community Boxing Academy and Rayco
Saunders from Weightmasters Boxing Gym,
scheduled for three 1-minute rounds, with Saunders getting the
decision, fighting out of the blue corner.
The second bout
was a championship match of heavyweights, between Hayden
Lutz of the Wolfpack Boxing Club and a very
young and tough Dan Borkowski of the West
Allegheny Fighting Academy, scheduled for three
2-minute rounds. At first, the match looked like it was going to be
‘target practice’ for Lutz; but, in spite of sustaining a
bloody nose, the 17-year-old Borkowski kept coming at Lutz, getting
in his share of punches. At one point, late in the second round,
Borkowski had Lutz in trouble, but Lutz managed to escape the
onslaught, unscathed, as well as getting what turned out to be a
Borkowski’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he
only started training four months ago, which he revealed to me
shortly after the fight.
The third bout
was another championship match at 178 pounds and scheduled for three
2-minute rounds, between Danté Hamilton from Carrick and
Brian Smith from Sharpsburg VFW. This match was a
‘slugfest’ between Hamilton, the slugger, and Smith, the
boxer, but the taller Smith managed to establish a stiff jab and was
able to prevail, getting the decision; however, while I watched this
match, it was apparent to me that Hamilton, with the power that he
possesses, might have won this match easily, if he were able to
switch to a southpaw stance suddenly.
After the fight,
I found out that Hamilton does, indeed, possess that ability, but
was advised not to use it in the match. If he were to use it
regularly, it would make him an extremely dangerous opponent for any
fighter that would step in the ring with him.
The fourth bout
was also a championship match at 101 pounds and scheduled for three
1-minute rounds between Johnathon Young of Carrick and
Gerald Sherrell of 3rd Avenue Boxing Gym.
These two young boys displayed a great deal of speed, as they
exchanged a flurry of punches, but Sherrell got in a few more
punches, as well as the decision; but, then again, with a rather
enthusiastic cheering section of one person, presumably his mother,
Sherrell couldn’t lose.
The last bout
before intermission was a match at 152 pounds and scheduled for
three 2-minute rounds, between Zac Kamikar of the
Wolfpack and Mike Shrekengoss of West Allegheny, but
this one was over in the first round, when Shrekengoss pummeled
Krimakar with a flurry of punches that prompted the referee to stop
the contest, giving Shrekengoss the match.
intermission, I had the pleasure to meet a newcomer to the
‘sisterhood of boxing’, when Bob Healy, the coach
of South Park Boxing Club, had introduced me to Kelli
Phipps, who just started training recently at South Park.
Phipps is in her
freshmen year at Duquesne University. I asked her in what weight
division was she going to fight, prompting a rather peculiar look on
her face before she said, “Well, I weigh about 120 pounds”. I
said, “Oh, you’re a featherweight”. Looking somewhat
relieved, Phipps replied, “Ooh! That, at least, sounds light”.
I then explained the breakdown of weight divisions to her and
offered to provide her a list of them for her reference, which she
Being that Phipps
is only 18 years of age, she has started training at a good time,
since she will have plenty of time to enjoy her participation in the
sport of boxing, with ample time as an amateur before she decides to
become a professional boxer. By that time, Phipps or her trainer
will come up with a suitable moniker for her.
Welcome to the
‘sisterhood’ of boxing, Kelli. May you enjoy it, with lots of
love and punches.
The sixth bout of
the evening was a classically scientific and friendly ‘scrap’,
a rematch between a welterweight and a middleweight, that are
frequent sparring partners, scheduled for four 2-minute rounds.
Nationally ranked Mike Strauss from the Wolfpack Boxing Club,
fighting out of the red corner, squared off against Jesse
Lubash from South Park, fighting out of the blue corner. I
wanted to call this match ‘The Battle of the Shoulders’,
since these two were exchanging a lot of shoulders in between their
exchange of punches while going at it, toe-to-toe. At one point,
during their close encounter, just as the referee was about to
separate them, Lubash came under Strauss’ right shoulder and
accidentally lifted Strauss off his feet; but upon realizing what
was happening, Lubash lowered him. This match was, to me, too close
to call, but Strauss got the decision.
The seventh bout
was a semi-final match at 178 pounds and scheduled for four 2-minute
rounds between Jimmy Lubash, also from South Park,
against Ryan Covert from Butler Cubs.
This match also turned out to be a classic or epic battle, with the
taller Covert getting a close decision.
The eighth and
final bout of the evening was a championship match at 165 pounds and
scheduled for four 2-minute rounds, between two gym partners,
John Fairly and Eric Harris, both from the 3rd
Avenue Boxing Gym. This match was a boxer-slugger confrontation,
between the taller Harris, as the boxer, and Fairly, as the slugger,
with Fairly trying to overcome Harris’ distinct reach advantage, in
order to work the body of Harris, but, in the heat of battle, during
close encounters, Fairly, unfortunately, was landing his blows a bit
below the belt, with Harris having to shake a few of them off, while
the referee deducted points from Fairly, which, in the end, secured
the decision in Harris’ favor.
this 2-day tournament had presented a total of twenty action-packed
Many kudos to all
those that participated, especially those that were really
responsible for this tournament, including Craig and Faith
Wolfley, who supplied the ring for the event, and the
excellent choice of venue for it, The Greentree Radisson.