The Tacoma Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament was inaugurated in 1949. Team championships, however, were not handed out until 1982.
Since that happened it’s been a one-sided affair as the Tacoma Boxing Club has captured 29 of the 34 overall team crowns.
The Tacoma Boxing Club will look to add more hardware at the 68th annual Tacoma Golden Gloves, which 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.
Never miss a local story.
The tournament will have 10 weight classes, ranging from light flyweight (108 pounds) to super heavyweight (201 pounds plus), and features more than 50 of the best amateur boxers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Northern California, Alaska and British Columbia.
Winners advance to the West Region Golden Gloves in Las Vegas, with regional champions competing in the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions on May 16-21 in Salt Lake City.
Coached by former USA Boxing Olympic coach Tom Mustin, the Tacoma Boxing Club is seeking its 10th consecutive team title. Mustin’s crew last failed to win the team crown in 2006, when the Northern California Boxing Club claimed the overall championship.
Tacoma Boxing Club also won 10 straight titles between 1982 and 1991. South Everett Boxing Club is the only other club with multiple team titles at the Tacoma Golden Gloves, winning a pair of championships (1997 and 1999).
Tacoma Boxing Club went 6 for 6 in last year’s finals, highlighted by Jerrell Barbour’s triumph in the 132-pound division. Barbour, a graduate of Stadium High School, joined former two-time national Golden Gloves champion and Tacoma Boxing Club member Mylon Watkins as the only boxers in the event’s 67-year history to win six titles.
Barbour was joined by teammates David Sandoval (123 pounds), Hector Rendon (141), Kevin Torres (152), Matthew Mollett (heavyweight) and Elvis Garcia (super heavyweight) as 2015 titlists.
It marked back-to-back division titles for both Sandoval and Garcia, while Rendon became a three-time winner.
Rendon, a National Golden Gloves champion in the 132-pound weight class, junior National Golden Gloves champion Harley Cuevas, Mollet and Garcia are all expected to compete in this year’s tournament for the Tacoma Boxing Club.
Mollett, a graduate of South Kitsap, is a former junior and youth open national champion, while Garcia became the Mexican national champion in the super heavyweight division after claiming the title in November at the 81st annual Mexican national championships.
Garcia is a two-time recipient (2014-15) of the Tacoma Golden Boy award, which is handed out annually to the tournament’s outstanding boxer. Marquice Weston (2010-11, 2013) is the only boxer to win the award three times. No one has accomplished the feat in three consecutive years.
Also expected to compete this week is Seattle light heavyweight Richard Vansiclen, Nick Vasques and 141-pound Nino Delgado of Anchorage, Alaska. All three have boxed in Olympic qualifiers.
The Tacoma Golden Gloves has a storied history, beginning with the 1949 tournament at which “Irish” Pat McMurtry won the 160-pound title. McMurtry, a product of Tacoma’s Starlight Athletic Club, would win two additional local Golden Gloves championships before becoming one of the top heavyweight contenders in the 1950s as a professional.
Ray Seales (1972), Leo Randolph (1975), Tom Sullivan (1975), Davey Armstrong (1978), Johnny Bumpus (1979), Les Fabri (1984), Watkins (1985-86), Frank Vassar (1990) and David Jackson (1996) all went on to claim National Golden Gloves championships after winning a title in Tacoma, while local champions Pete Rademacher (1956), Seales (1972) and Randolph (1976) also won Olympic gold medals during their amateur careers.