June 11th – 12th, 2021
Yes, I know this is a weekly music column. Yes, I understand that while the thud of a well thrown punch finding its target is music to my ears, a boxing match is a far cry from a live concert. That said, when I visited the iOnGreenville event calendar and the websites of all of the local music venues, the one event that I really want to talk about and go see live this weekend is the South Carolina Golden Glove State Championship at The Spinning Jenny. Since the Jenny is first and foremost a music venue, I figured that was close enough to give myself a pass here…
For full transparency, let me explain that I have loved the sport of boxing for as long as I can remember. It probably began with watching those classic Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and Marvin Hagler fights on free TV with my dad, long before the days of overpriced pay-per-view events. I remember him taking me to my first live fights in the basement of the old Greenville Memorial Auditorium – a Golden Gloves tournament, coincidentally enough (I will never forget the poor kid that lost a fight because his trunks fell down but that is a story for another day). I will also never forget my lone personal foray in a boxing ring when I entered a tough man contest in Indianapolis and felt the primal blood lust of a thousand voices screaming for my opponent – and then me – as we traded untrained blows and near knockouts. Finally, even though I do not keep up with the sport as religiously as I once did, if there is a fight on television when I sit down in my recliner at the end of the day, rest assured that I am going to watch it.
All of that is to say that as a fight fan there is generally very little to feed my cravings for live combat sports in the Upstate. When I lived in Indy, HBO televised fights came to town at least once a year and monthly “Budweiser Fight Nights” at the old state fairgrounds were a regular part of my life. Here I am relegated to the odd amateur tournament from time to time with this weekend’s Golden Glove Championship the biggest event I have had the opportunity to see in some time.
Personal fan-boy disclaimers aside, if you have even a casual interest in boxing or combat sports in general, Golden Gloves tournaments are the premier amateur boxing events. Founded in the 1920’s and becoming the gold standard (no pun intended) in amateur boxing since the 1960’s, most paths to professional success go through Golden Gloves events. Local championships lead to state titles which are followed by regional and then national tournaments. From there, the only place to go is the Olympics if a fighter’s timing is right or, simply, onto the professional circuit.
For this tournament, amateur boxers aged 18-40 with at least 11 fights under their belts will compete across ten different weight classes for the opportunity to advance to the Southeast regional tournament. Unlike the pro fights we are accustomed to seeing on ESPN2, Showtime, or PPV, fighters wear heavier gloves and headgear to reduce the chance of injury. Volume of punches landed is held in higher regard than knockout shots as technique takes precedence to haymakers. That means that the future of American boxing is kept as safe and protected as they can be in a boxing ring as they hone their skills and work their up the amateur ladder.
This weekend’s tournament is a two day affair featuring 60 fighters (54 men, 6 women) signed up for a crack at the state championship in their respective weight classes. Tickets are $25 for a one day pass or $40 for both days. Visit SCGoldenGloves.com for more information and to get your tickets today.