Nigee King has the support of his family as he prepares for the 2006 Silver Gloves Region III boxing tournament, which will be held Jan. 5-7 in Augusta.
"He gets a lot of extra training at home," said his stepfather, Eric Holman, who is a coach at the North Augusta Boxing Club. "He's been running and doing pushups, and I've been catching punches."
Nigee, 11, a sixth-grader at North Augusta Middle School, competed in the Silver Gloves Nationals last year.
Eleven boxers from the North Augusta club qualified for the regional competition this year after the state championships were held at the club's gym the first weekend of December, said Jo-Anne Newman, one of the club's founders.
Region III covers eight states, with boxers from as far away as Maryland.
"Sometimes, there's better competition at our regionals (than at the nationals)," said Mrs. Newman. "In (Washington) D.C. and Maryland, they have a lot of experience."
For safety, there are strict regulations concerning youth boxing, Mrs. Newman said. Boxers can have no more than a five-pound weight difference or a two-year age difference with their opponents.
Those guidelines have made it difficult for boxers such as Amber Bush, a ninth-grader at North Augusta High School.
Amber has been training for about 18 months but has fought in only one bout. She lost in the state tournament after suffering a bloody nose. She'll be representing the club at the regionals.
"I'm really nervous," she said.
Another newcomer to the boxing club who will be competing in his first Silver Gloves is Patrick Brown, a Jackson Middle School seventh-grader.
"I've been working hard," said Patrick, who said he loves the sport although he's been involved in it for only about three months.
Nigee said he's looking forward to the regionals as a stepping stone to bigger matches.
"The nationals are in February. I hope to get there," he said.
Mr. Holman thinks Nigee's chances for the nationals are good.
"He has a lot more experience" this year, Mr. Holman said.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.