The 67th Annual Tacoma Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament begins Friday with preliminary bouts at the Al Davies Boys & Girls Club.
Championship bouts will be held Saturday at the University of Puget Sound Fieldhouse. Both cards start at 7 p.m.
Nine weight classes in the men’s division will be contested; five in the women’s division.
The Tacoma Boxing Club, which has won 28 team titles over the event’s lengthy history, will once again be well-represented with five boxers — including super heavyweight Elvis Garcia, defending 123-pound titlist David Sandoval, two-time winner Hector Rendon and five-time local champion Jerrell Barbour.
A year after losing to Bremerton’s Ramel Casablanca in the super heavyweight (plus-201 pounds) final, Garcia was named the tournament’s outstanding boxer last year after winning the divisional title.
Garcia parlayed his Tacoma victory into a championship at the West Region Golden Gloves in Las Vegas in 2014. He also was the runner-up in last year’s USA Men’s Elite National Championships, losing 2-1 in the final to Cam F. Awesome, the nation’s top-ranked super heavyweight.
Barbour, who claimed his first title in Tacoma in 2007 at 119 pounds, will compete in the 132-pound class — a division he won in 2012.
The Stadium High School graduate will look to become the second boxer to win six Tacoma Golden Gloves championships. Former two-time national Golden Gloves champion Mylon Watkins is the only boxer in the tournament’s 66-year history to accomplish the feat, winning a half-dozen titles between 1981-86.
The heavyweight/201-pound division features standouts Patrick Ferguson of Spokane and Port Orchard’s Matthew Mollet.
Despite having the minimum requirement of 10 amateur bouts, Ferguson not only captured the gold medal in the heavyweight division at last month’s USA Boxing National Championships in Spokane, but he also was named the tournament’s outstanding male boxer.
Mollet, a senior at South Kitsap High School, was the one of seven Team USA boxers to claim gold at the 2014 Youth Continental Championships in Quito, Ecuador.
According to Tacoma Boxing Club coach Tom Mustin, Team British Columbia has six boxers entered, including Ken Lally, a multiple-time Canadian national champion in the 123-pound division. Lally defeated Barbour two years ago at the Tacoma tournament to claim the title.
Team B.C. has also entered River Tucker, who won the 125-pound women’s title last year.
With such a high number of participants, Team B.C. could wrestle the overall team title from the Tacoma Boxing Club, which has won eight consecutive crowns. The TBC last lost to Northern California in 2006.
Tacoma Boxing Club’s current streak is the second longest in tournament history and trails only the 10 straight titles the club pieced together between 1982-91.
Also entered to participate is Victor Morales, a former national and world junior champion from Vancouver, Washington, in the 123-pound classification.
Winners from the Tacoma Golden Gloves tournament advance to the West Region Golden Gloves in Las Vegas with regional champions competing in the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions on May 4-11 in Charleston, West Virginia