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Boxing Mon Aug 19 2013

Fight Night Comes To Chicago


It had been a little over 50 years since an outdoor boxing event took place on the South side of the city. That was on September 25, 1962, when Sonny Liston won the world heavyweight title by knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round. The capacity crowd witnessed what eventually would be a long drought of outdoor boxing for rest of the millennium.

Fast forward to 2013 and with the help of three promoters, Round 3 Productions, 8 Count Productions and Warriors Boxing, you get a decent crowd in U.S. Cellular Field, on a beautiful evening and a solid card.

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Crago

Boxing Thu Aug 15 2013

Friday Night's Alright for Fighting at Sox Park

fridaynightfights.jpgTurn back the clock this Friday, Aug. 16, to a time when Chicago used to be a hub for big-time boxing events, which even took place outdoors. Round 3 Productions, 8 Count Productions and Warriors Boxing come together to put on ESPN Friday Night Fights, the first fight card at a Chicago ballpark in 50 years, since Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson at Comiskey Park in 1962.

ESPN will be on hand to televise the live event from U.S. Cellular Field, featuring local light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs) taking on former world titleholder Gabriel Campillo (21-5-1, 8 KOs). The co-feature on the card pits a heavyweight rematch between Artur Szpillka (14-0, 11 KOs) and Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KOs). Szpillka scored a sixth-round KO of Mollo last Feb. 1 at UIC Pavillion in what was an all-out brutal exchange of head and body shots.

The event kicks off at 6pm with tickets available through Ticketmaster. If you're looking for some actual hitting on the South Side this season, why not make it to a boxing event?

Jim Crago

Boxing Tue Jul 16 2013

Youth Boxing a Knockout with Chicago Park District

Boxing_Ring.jpg Former Chicago Golden Gloves heavyweight champ Thomas Hayes looks on while a group from the Chicago Park District constructs an outdoor boxing ring smack dab in front of the Picasso in Daley Plaza. Sweat drips down his face as the morning sun beats down heavily on his brow while directing traffic and unpacking boxes.

"K.O. Time," as Hayes has been known inside and out of the squared circle, hung up his gloves a few years ago after sweating and beating brows for almost nine. His fighting résumé has him well-traveled along the West Coast and throughout the Midwest, including a WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight shot against Chris Arreola, his second and final loss in 29 fights, all while training under Kevin Rooney.

But before Hayes walked down aisles in arenas, he walked his way to high school at Leo on the south side. One of those trips to school resulted in a gunshot wound from a .22 caliber, which would change the course of his life forever.

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Crago

Boxing Wed Feb 16 2011

Capturing Stillness in Chicago's Boxing Clubs

We caught up with photographer Jason Reblando to talk about his series on the amateur boxing clubs of the Chicago Park District, a project years in the making that documents young athletes in transition, caught between childhood and adulthood. It's showing through Friday at the President's Gallery at Harold Washington College.

UPDATE: Look for the show April 1 at the Canale Art Lounge as well.

Q: How did you get started on this project? What led you to boxing?

I know very little about boxing. I know what the average person knows. ... [My interest was] more about photography and city living more than the sport itself. But it was a great entry point into Chicago. I first started the project when I moved to Chicago in 2002 and didn't know anything about the city, didn't know anything about the neighborhoods. I didn't know the train. I just didn't know anyone. And I ended up taking a photo class at Truman College and just started taking pictures in Clarendon Park gym and then I found out about all their other athletic fieldhouses that were part of the Chicago Park District. I saw that they were all over the city and I figured that would be a good way to get to know people, get to know neighborhoods.

And I think the reason why I focused on boxing was just because I wanted to talk to people and it was pretty easy to talk to people in between sparring and their exercises. I didn't have to set up a meeting with a big team, like a football team or a basketball team. It was nice to just be one-on-one, and even though I was partly interrupting their rest time, everyone was really generous with their time. I think people just like being paid attention to.

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Reedy

Boxing Mon Nov 23 2009

A Little Perspective

hudginsrodriguez.jpgSure watching the Bears stumble their way to yet another loss, this time to the Philadelphia Eagles (more on that later) is bad, but there are some things that make even that debacle pale in comparison.

While most of us were cursing Jay Cutler and Company, promising Chicago boxer Francisco Rodriguez passed away Sunday night, apparently the result of a TKO he suffered in his bout against Teon Kennedy Friday night in Philadelphia, a fight to determine the vacant USBA super bantamweight championship. Rodriguez collapsed in his corner, was rushed to the hospital and died when his family made the decision to take him off life support.

His opponent's co-manager, Doc Nowicki, was quoted on as saying, "We stopped off for a cheesesteak after the fight and I told Teon, 'It might not be looking too good for the other guy, T. What we all need to do now is pray for his recovery.' But sometimes prayers aren't enough."

Ken Green / Comments (6)

Boxing Fri Sep 25 2009

D-Day For Diaz?

Local hero David Diaz makes his return to the Chicago boxing scene when he takes on Jesus Chavez in the "Windy City Fight Night 6" at the UIC Pavilion this Saturday. For Diaz, the bout is a chance to get back into the title scene after his classic bout (and unfortunate loss) against Manny Pacquiao some 14 months ago. If this weekend's bout is anything like that one (highlights below), it won't be easy for either fighter.

Ken Green

News Thu Sep 24 2009

Short Hops

  • Will he or won't he? President Obama may go pitch Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics afterall (with Arne Duncan in tow). But, as everyone knows, Oprah has the last word.
  • Whither goest thou, White Sox? Kenny Williams is trying to figure that out.
  • Milton Bradley says he's sorry. Does anyone care?
  • Cubs fans disillusioned by the outcome of this season can take a look back at the 1984 team. Not that the outcome then was any better, but still...
  • Seattle's T.J. Houshmandzadeh says he has something to prove when the Seahawks meet the Bears this Sunday. Meanwhile, the Bears seek to establish the running game. But if wide receiver Johnny Knox continues his ascent, we can wait a little while.
  • Mixed martial arts star Fedor Emelianenko is coming to Chicago in November. Take appropriate action.
  • And you find yourself...riding a bike down Michigan Ave. Musician David Byrne talks about his cycling fixation and cruising around Chicago.
  • Boxer David Diaz brings it back home this Saturday.
  • If you're participating in the sixth annual Salmon Classic this Sunday at Northerly Island, use this as inspiration.
  • The Chicago Fire prepare to honor another Chicago soccer team who weren't too shabby themselves in their day.
  • Late Chicago Olympian Willye White has a new park named in her honor.
  • The Big Ten football season kicks off this Saturday and while other teams discuss strategy for their upcoming opponents, Northwestern's gridiron gang has different concerns on their mind.
  • The Chicago Outfit close out their 2009 season this Saturday at the Windy City Fieldhouse. Get pumped up for the contest by checking out the cool video below.

The Chicago Outfit - The Latest Show Ever from Spencer M. Rohan on Vimeo.

Ken Green / Comments (1)

News Thu Jun 25 2009

Short Hops

  • The Chicago chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America is meeting tomorrow to figure out once and for all how they should regard players of the Steroid Era in their future Hall of Fame voting. One Delaware sports writer is urging them to "do the right thing."
  • When the dust clears after tonight's NBA draft, will Kirk Hinrich end up wearing a new uniform?
  • The White Sox youngsters Jayson Nix and Josh Fields made the most of their rare starting assignments.
  • Local Iowa State and Duke basketball fans might have something to do next January 6.
  • The Fire is gearing up for its next match in the Super Liga against fellow MLS club Chivas USA Tuesday at Toyota Park.
  • ChicagoNow blogger Matt Olsen lists 10 Chicago sports surprises that weren't really surprises. Personally, I'd add the continually rising cost projections for hosting the Olympics.
  • It'll be Mark Brown (no, not this Mark Brown) instead of Gonzalo Omar Basile who will take on Fres Oquendo at "Windy City Fight Night 3" this Friday at the UIC Pavilion. On the undercard, Rita "La Guera" Figueroa has a rematch with Tammie "The Tasmanian Devil" Johnson. Man, I love nicknames.
  • Weekend warriors, get caught up with the Chicago Open paintball tournament being held in Bollingbrook.
  • The Chicago Machine hope to end a three-game losing streak when they take on the Washington Bayhawks this Saturday at Toyota Park in Major League Lacrosse action.
  • If you just can't let go of the 1985 Bears, you might have a reason to watch the Cleveland Browns a bit closer this season.
  • The Lou Malnati's Pizza Bronco team does a worst-to-first run in the Wilmette House women's baseball league. Meanwhile, it's the Riveters versus the Skyline and the Comets versus the Turtle Rock in Chicago Gems Women's Baseball League action at Bedford Park Fields.

Ken Green

News Wed Jun 10 2009

Short Hops

  • It was a rough start for the Chicago Sky in their season opener, but top rookie Kristi Toliver is taking it one game at a time.
  • ESPN Chicago muses on the White Sox young "saviors", recent call-ups Gordon Beckham and Aaron Poreda.
  • Meanwhile, the Sox newest draft picks still have that new car smell.
  • On the other side of town, the Cubs' top pick says he was hoping they would select him all along because he admires their history...
  • ...which, as a Tribune article states, has been well documented on film.
  • A golf foursome with Ben Roethlisberger, Justin Timberlake and Michael Jordan? Somebody pinch former Chicago cop Larry Giebelhausen, because he must be dreaming.
  • Chicago's long history of heavyweight boxing add another chapter as Frez Oquendo takes on Gonzalo Basile in a June 26 bout.
  • Fire fan favorite C.J. Brown looks back on 12 years with the team.
  • Add Mike Ditka to the Not-Crazy-About-Jay-Cutler (Anti)Fan Club. Did this guy kick a puppy or something?
  • It may be too late to register as an individual for the 2009 Chicago Marathon, but you can still get in under the wire by joining a team.
  • Finally, meet the man who motivated Michael Jordan to greatness (by beating him out for the last spot on their high school basketball team): Leroy Smith. (If he looks a little like Charlie Murphy, that's purely coincidental, we're sure.)

Ken Green

Baseball Mon May 25 2009

Cubs' Losing Streak Hits 7

The good news is that Cubs' scored more runs on Sunday than they had in any of their previous five games; the bad news is that they only scored two. On the heels of another lackluster offensive effort, the Cubs dropped their seventh straight game and completed their winless, six game road trip in San Diego. A week ago, I wrote about how this team was managing to create wins amid a storm of injures, underperforming players and shaky relief pitching. Fittingly, the team has lost every game since then, scoring only five runs in the last six games. Have all the short comings of this team caught up to them or has this week merely been a bad stretch? If anything positive can be taken out of the last seven games, it is that the losses can be pinpointed to one single part of their team: the offense. For the most part, both the starting pitching and bullpen have done well to keep the games respectable. If the pitching can remain steady and if the bats can produce, there is a formula in place that can produce wins in the future.

While the season is still young, at some point soon this team needs prove that they can contend, if they plan on having a successful season. I've already heard the grumblings amongst fans who worry about the proverbial window closing on this batch of Cubs' players. The Cubs are a team that was built to win now. Made up of mostly veteran players, even their "young" guys are not all that young. Micah Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot turn 29 this year, Geovany Soto is 26, every other position player is in their 30's. The starting rotation particularly is made up of veteran players. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a veteran team; you just don't want to be an old team. But the difference between "veteran" and "old" is not distinguished by age, the only difference is that veteran teams win and old teams lose. The Cubs are hoping to be a veteran team but it won't be long before they turn old. They have a lot of money tied into the big contracts of players who are past their peak production years. Their farm system is one of the worst in baseball, only two of their players are listed in Baseball Prospectus' Top 100 Prospects : Josh Vitters and Jeff Samardzija, numbers #34 and #85, respectively. If baseball has taught us anything since the end of the Yankees' dynasty, it is that teams cannot buy a World Series title, successful teams start in the farm system. If the 2009 Cubs cannot compete, there is not much reason to believe that the 2010 team will be much better. The time for the Cubs to win is now, or maybe it was last year, this is not a team built to be competitive in three or four years. So while it may only be May, the Cubs need to break out of their slump and give the fans reason to hope for the rest of the year before it is too late. And then hope that new ownership can figure out the aging problem in the years to come.

Michael Longhini

Boxing Mon Feb 09 2009

It's #@$&*!@ Golden (Gloves)

Joe Louis. Ezzard Charles, Sonny Liston. Cassius Clay. Shenequa Golding.

Yeah, that last name might elicit a "Who?" when placed along those famous boxing monikers, but after April, it might be a household name.

Golding is one of the local sports writers and reporters who have taken up the challenge offered by the Chicago Golden Gloves organizers and entered this year's tournament for a unique perspective on the historic boxing tournament. (Hopefully that perspective won't be on the mat looking up.) And while it can safely be called a longshot, joining the list of past champions such as Louis, Charles, Liston and Clay is always a possibility. Hey, stranger things have happened. Just ask a certain ex-governor.

Golding, a reporter for the Southtown Star by way of New York City, and Brad Engel, sports editor of the Naperville Sun, are documenting their journey from rank (unranked?) amateurs to red-blooded boxers in their respective papers. They're receiving training from local boxing coaches and will make their fighting debut when the tournament kicks off on March 19 at St. Andrew's Gym, 1658 W. Addison. It culminates with the championships April 16-18. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

The tournament has been around since 1923 and in addition to the aforementioned legendary boxers, the tournament had a pretty good run in the '90s when it produced a string of local boxers who went on to represent the U.S. in the Olympics, including Montel Griffin ('92), Donnell Nicholson ('92), Nate Jones ('96), David Diaz ('96) and Michael Bennett ('00)

In the interest of full disclosure, the staff of Gapers Block were also invited to participate, but decided to remain outside the ring due to our extreme awesomness. Also, we heard our collective mothers calling us.

Ken Green

News Fri Oct 17 2008

Reel Sports

KassimTheDream.jpgWhile you might think it's all angst-ridden, Ingmar Bergman-esque examinations of man's search for his place in the universe (and taking at least three hours to find it), the Chicago International Film Festival has something even sports fans might like. Several of the films at this year's festival use an athletic backdrop to tell stories of struggle and achievement. So consider giving the television remote a rest and checking out some of the following (all info taken from the official CIFF website):

Kassim The Dream
(Dir. - Kief Davidson)
Friday, Oct. 25, 5:50 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, 2 p.m.
River East 21 Theater (7)

Kidnapped by rebel soldiers at the age of six. A war-hardened veteran by 12. A boxing champion at 15. Kassim "The Dream" Ouma's extraordinary journey from Ugandan child solider to world-class athlete is a tale of survival and determination that turns tragedy into inspiration. 87 min.

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

News Thu Sep 25 2008

Short Hops

  • The White Sox ship may be sinking, but Juan Uribe is worried about a different boat.
  • Cubs' manager Lou Pinella talks about his future with the Cubs.
  • "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks has added to this personal roster.
  • With talk of the sale of the Cubs heating up again, a YouTube video offers one possible outcome.
  • That All-Time Cubs/White Sox team has irked one fan... in Indianapolis.
  • The White Sox will take on the Reds in next year's Civil Rights Game.
  • Donovan McNabb says he's fired up to play against the Bears this Sunday. Great... just great.
  • An AIDS activist is running from New York City to Chicago to raise awareness of the disease's devastating affect in Africa
  • The Chicago Red Stars of the Women's Professional Soccer league obtained the rights to four international stars.
  • "Cicero Fury" comes to, well, Cicero in the form of an evening of boxing on October 17.
  • Brush up on your Big Wheel skills. The Urban Assault Ride is coming to Chicago this weekend.
  • More pedal-powered fun: bike polo.

Ken Green

Feature Thu Sep 18 2008

Short Hops

  • If Chicago is the stress capital of the U.S., the New York Times has one reason why.
  • Meanwhile, The Trib's Steve Rosebloom sticks by his Cubs/White Sox World Series prediction. Um, has he looked at BOTH teams' bullpen?
  • Ozzie being Ozzie, part 37.
  • The good news: Carlos Quinten's cast has been removed. The bad news: They're not rushing him back.
  • Ok, so Kosuke Fukudome didn't exactly set the Chicago baseball world on fire. There could be another Japanese baseball star trying to make his mark at Wrigley Field next season.
  • They haven't had their first match yet, but the Chicago Red Stars already look like the team to beat, thanks to three new additions to their roster.
  • A survey says nearly every kid plays video games. Will the Jumbotrons of today be the playing fields of tomorrow?
  • Apparently he wasn't punched enough the first time. A local boxing promoter is returning to action IN the ring.
  • In case you missed it, the Chicago Open crowned a squash champion recently.
  • The Chicago Storm joined the four-team Xtreme Soccer League. You know it's wild because they spell it "Xtreme".
  • Check it out: U.S. Women's Soccer vs. Ireland at Toyota Park. The Chicago Cyclocross Cup at Jackson Park. The Blackhawks Training Camp Festival. The AIDS Run/Walk at Grant Park. Tuesday Night Pub Quiz at The Globe.

Ken Green

Boxing Wed Jul 09 2008

Aragon 'Brawlroom' Site of ESPN Fight

Chicago will once again return to the national boxing spotlight when Tomasz "The Polish Warrior" Adamek takes the ring against Gary Gomez this Friday at the Aragon Ballroom, in a 10-round bout slated to be televised on ESPN2.

Adamek, the No. 1 IBF mandatory cruiserweight contender and a former light heavyweight champion, will be joined on the card by middleweight Andrzej "The Polish Prince" Fonfara taking on Derrick "Superman" Findley in the co-main event. Undefeated super middleweight Pior Wilczewski and undefeated heavyweight Mariusz Wach are also on the card, which kicks off at 7:15 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Adamek has fought in Chicago twice before, both times facing Australian Paul Briggs. In their 2005 bout, Adamek claimed the vacant WBC light heavyweight title at the United Center.

Ken Green

News Thu Jun 19 2008

Short Hops

  • A Major League Baseball story on the Cubs' days as a WEST Side ballclub includes some interesting bits of information, including the time in 1908 when a woman gave birth in the bleachers. Contrast that with today when...nah, too easy.
  • Belmont Harbor will be the launching site of a major international boating event when 84 boats from around the world compete in the 2008 Etchells World Championships. The weeklong event kicks off this Friday.
  • Another bout has been added to the boxing card at the Aragon Ballroom this Friday, which we told you about yesterday.
  • After a surprising and promising 2008 season for the Blackhawks, this weekend's NHL draft will be as important for the Hawks as the NBA draft will be for the Bulls. A hockey prospects resource site gives the lowdown.
  • He may not be in the Hall of Fame, but South Carolina residents are not forgetting their native son, White Sox legend Shoeless Joe Jackson and are building a museum in his honor. The organizers are hoping that the tribute helps the HOF committee forget about Jackson's role (or non-role) in the whole Black Sox scandal.

Ken Green

Boxing Wed Jun 18 2008

Griffin Bring Boxing Back Home

It's been a long time since Chicago was one of, if not THE, boxing capital of the U.S. The list of historic bouts that have occured here are legendary: Gene Tunney vs. Jack Dempsey in the infamous "long count" bout in 1927 at Soldier Field; Joe Louis defeating James Braddock in 1937; Sugar Ray Robinson knocking out Jake LaMotta in 1951; Floyd Patterson KOing Archie Moore to win the vacant world heavyweight title in '56.

But the glitz, gawdy atmosphere and, frankly, money of Las Vegas stole the boxing spotlight from not only Chicago but places like New York and Atlantic City as well, leaving the city to settle for things like Lamont Brewster vs. James "Quick" Tillis (feel free to say "Who?"), which took place at the Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Area) some 25 years ago.

Still, there's something about a professional bout within the city limits that hearkens back to those old days. Boxing fans will get a chance to experience a little of what that was like when Chicago native Montell Griffin takes on Corey Commings at the Aragon Ballroom on Friday, June 20. The six-bout card begins at 6:30 p.m.

The 37-year-old Griffin, 48-7 with 30 KOs in his 15-year career, was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team (that included Oscar De La Hoya) and held the WBC light heavyweight title in 1997 until losing to Roy Jones Jr. While presumably heading for retirement, Griffin is hoping to finish his career with an even 50 wins and a final title shot.

Ken Green

Boxing Fri Apr 04 2008

A Golden Opportunity

You can argue all day about whether boxing is a sport of precision and science or a brutal display of man’s penchant for violence. But either way, the sport is hard to ignore.

This might partially explain the appeal and longevity of the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament, the city’s amateur boxing showcase that’s been battling along, in one form or another, since 1923. It’s a far cry from the professional ranks, where personality and glitz often overshadow the fights themselves. These are stripped-down, no-frills affairs where the limo is replaced by the Red Line and the “entourage” usually consists of an anxious kid and his coach. But from those humble beginnings the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament (or the Chicago Tournament of Champions as it has alternately been known) has spawned a few professional champions, including Barney Ross, Ezzard Charles, Sonny Liston, Ernie Terrell and some kid named Cassius Clay.

The semi-finals of this year’s Golden Gloves tournament will take place tonight (Friday) and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Gym, 1658 W. Addison. Finals will be held April 17-19, 7:30 p.m., also at St. Andrew’s.

Ken Green

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