Four championship belts and four silver medals isn't bad for a bunch of Manitoba scrappers, considering the tournament consisted of more than 1,400 boxers, 1,000 bouts, and 250-plus champions being declared.
Manitoba threw its best fighters into the fray Aug. 2-7 at the 10th anniversary Ringside World Amateur Boxing Championship Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. With as many as six rings in use at the same time, they held their own against fighters from all over the globe, including Finland, Ireland, Poland, England, Hawaii and Alaska.
Leading the Manitoba contingent was Jon Quinit of the United Boxing Club, who won the open men's 17-34, 108-lbs., championship by upsetting Carlos Suarez of Ohio.
With only 13 fights under his belt going into the tournament, Quinit said he wasn't concerned that Suarez had about 150. "I've fought internationally before, and most of those guys have more than 100 fights, so I was used to fighting people with lots of experience. You can't let the pressure get to you. You need to be totally focused and ready. Then let it all out and do what you do in the ring."
Also winning in the open class was Jessica Cross of Whitemouth (Eastman BC, in Beausejour). She dominated the women's 17-34, open, 141-pound division by beating Debbie Richards of London, Ont. Rounding out the champions were Jerome Busch of the Pan Am Boxing Club, who defeated Tulsa's Jamal Johnson to win the boys 15-16 novice 154-pounds division and Jason Neulan, of Orioles BC, who beat Richard Pena of Texas for the men's 17-34 132-pound novice belt.
Quinit breezed through his first of only two bouts, decisioning Tyrell Dennis of St. Louis. "He did an excellent job in his first fight," said his coach Dejan (Papa) Paunovic. "In second fight he was a little bit nervous, because that guy was the national champion in the United States. In the first round Jon was a bit clumsy, running around, so I told him to calm down and box like he does in the gym.
"That guy (Suarez) was Mexican (Latino), and know those guys do a lot of body shots, so I told Jon to cover his body. He did come with the body shots, but Jon was covering every shot. In the second and third round he was declared the winner."
"Suarez was a really good fighter," said Quinit. "I used my tight defence, picked my punches. When I threw a punch, I made sure it would land. I didn't waste any."
Silver medal performances were turned in by: Ian McDonald, PABC, in the 108-pounds, 15-16 novice division; Holly Enns, PABC in the 165-pounds 17-34 novice division; Lucas Jansson of Pinawa BC, in the boys 154 novice division; Taylor Gillespie of Winnipeg in the boys 15-16 189-pound novice.
The 19-year-old University of Manitoba student credits the skills he learned from age 5-13 from the Filipino martial art Sikaran, for his success in the three years he has been boxing. "It's the same thing, art of combat. Our sparing, or competitions, are also a point system, similar to boxing, and the style is similar to Sikaran."
He also pointed out that discipline and concentration he learned crosses over into the ring. "You have to be very patient in the ring. Discipline is so important to this sport. If you are not disciplined, you are not going to perform well. You have to be dedicated to the sport, and love the sport, in order to do well in it."