The 66th annual Tacoma Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament begins Friday with preliminary bouts at the Al Davies Boys and Girls Club.
Championships will be contested Saturday at the Tacoma Armory. Both cards will have a first bell of 7 p.m.
A total of 10 weight classes will be challenged in the men’s division, while the women feature three weight classifications.
“There’s a lot of tough divisions this year,” Tacoma Boxing Club coach Tom Mustin said. “We have a high number of boxers at 123 (pounds), 132 and 152. I think those could be the toughest divisions. Canada is bringing down seven boxers from Prince George. They’ve never brought that many down before. That’s going to add a lot to the tournament.”
The Tacoma Boxing Club, which has captured seven consecutive team titles and 27 overall at the tournament, will have nine boxers, including defending champions Hector Rendon (132 pounds), Nick Jefferson (141) and Dugan Lawton (178).
Jefferson, ranked as high as second nationally in the light welterweight division by USA Boxing last year, has captured four consecutive titles at the local tournament, claiming the past two in the 141-pound class to go with a pair of 132-pound crowns won in 2010 and 2011.
Teammate Jerrell Barbour (123) will attempt to become the first boxer in the event’s storied history to win six career titles.
Barbour, a graduate of Stadium High School, failed in his attempt last year, losing to five-time Canadian national champion Kenny Lally by decision in the finals.
The 123-pound division drew six competitors, including Tacoma Boxing Club member David Sandoval, who is coming off a quarterfinal appearance in last month’s USA Boxing National Championships in Spokane.
Tacoma Boxing Club will also have Elvis Garcia in the 201-plus division. Garcia lost in last year’s finals to Ramel Casablanca but is coming off a strong showing at nationals.
Garcia advanced to the national finals, losing to four-time Golden Gloves national super heavyweight champion Cam F. Awesome, 2-1.
“Elvis has only been boxing for two years,” Mustin said. “He’s still learning, but he’s figuring things out fast.”
Casablanca also returns and will attempt to become the tournament’s first consecutive winner in the super heavyweight division since Mike Wilson won three titles from 2001-03.
Rounding out the list of Tacoma Boxing Club participants is Edward Rojas (108), Kevin Torres (152), and Walter Mabry (165).
Seattle’s Jen Hamann (125) and Wenatchee’s Griselda Madrigal (141) highlight the contenders in the female divisions.
Hamann, the 2013 national champion, won the 132-pound title last year, while Madrigal took home the 141-pound championship.
The Tacoma Golden Gloves is the second longest consecutive Golden Gloves boxing tournament in the United States, trailing only New York, which held its inaugural tournament in 1927.
Champions advance to next month’s West regionals in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas will also be the site for the 2014 National Golden Gloves tournament May 12-17.