A summer tournament that determined the national junior boxing champion was thrown together in about a month last year. This year, it will be televised.
"I thought it would be good for the kids to have a tournament in the summer, to have a way that they can showcase their talents," said Tom Moraetes, director and head coach at the Augusta Boxing Club.
He and the boxing club's local sponsors - Comcast, the Augusta Recreation and Parks Departments and national sponsor Ringside - "literally threw the tournament together in about a month."
It became the Ringside Augusta National Summer Boxing Classic, which will be held at the May Park Community Center tonight through Saturday night, beginning at 6 each night.
The event was a tremendous success in its first year, drawing in more than 100 young boxers from all over the country. So this year, Comcast Sports South will broadcast it.
For the boxers, this means even more exposure. Moraetes estimates that on June 23 at 7 p.m., the tournament will reach 5 million homes through the telecast.
"It adds a bit more class to the tournament," he said.
The telecast is only one sign that the tournament has grown. This year, the age limit has expanded to 9-16. Consequently, Moraetes thinks there could be as many as 300 boxers.
But there's no way of knowing for sure until the end of registration, which ended at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Having registration open until the day before the first fight might make for an administrative nightmare, but Moraetes believes in including any boxer who wishes to compete. His theory: "If you have it, they will come."
And they're not coming for fun. Moraetes believes that half of the 2008 Olympic boxing team will be competing in Augusta this weekend.
"I said that two years ago, when we had the National Association of Police Athletic/Activities Leagues championships here, and like three fourths of those guys are on the Olympic team this year," he said.
"The upper age group (15- and 16-year-old) is looking right down the barrel of an Olympic gold medal."
The only qualifications a boxer must have to compete in this weekend's tournament are that the boxer be between the ages of 9-16 on the first day of the tournament and be registered with USA Boxing, the boxing club's parent organization and governing body for Olympic boxing.
KUNG-FU FIGHTING: Students from the Choy Lee Fut kung-fu school competed Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., in the Chinese Martial Arts regional tournament.
In their first competition, two students and their teacher brought back prizes. Jeff Liu of Martinez finished third in both the open hand forms and weapons forms in the junior division. Gary Lee Coleman of Augusta was second in weapon forms and third in open hand forms in the adult intermediate division. Coleman and Wojciech Konopka finished first in the set sparring division. Konopka also took second in the advanced open hand form division.
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