The 2012 National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions is in the books and after six days of non-stop action it was evident that the sport of boxing and this city mix very well.
With more than 300 amateur boxers ages 19-35 competing in more than 200 bouts from April 30-May 5, the inside of the CasaBlanca Event Center on the grounds of the CasaBlanca Resort was a buzz of activity during one of the most prestigious athletic events of its kind.
For the record, a team from Washington, D.C. took the overall title on the final day beating Texas and New York, but everyone agreed that every boxer who competed was a winner.
"Next to the Olympics, this is the greatest achievement that an amateur boxer can have," said Tournament Director Dawn Sanchez. "You have to work very hard to get here and work even harder to survive a national tournament. Only one champion is named in each division -- and that's huge.
"This event could have been held anywhere in the country. People compete for the opportunity to host these events because of the prestige and what it does for a community."
Caption: Washington, D.C. Golden Gloves President and franchise delegate Bobby Magruder, right, is shown with Gervonta Davis, center, who won the 123-pound division; and an unidentified boxing enthusiast at the CasaBlanca Event Center.
A team of highly-respected hotel executives including Mesquite Gaming General Sales Manager Michele Evans along with Sanchez's mother Dawn Barry and Julian Dugas of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority landed the Tournament of Champions in 2010 beating several cities to the punch including Cincinnati, Ohio and Lafayette, La.
In addition, the CasaBlanca supplied a $30,000 donation to bring the event to this city situated about 80 miles north of Las Vegas.
Caption: Washington, D.C. fighter Jerry Odom, left, is shown battling Michael Reid of Wisconsin in the 178 pound division. Odom won the national title and was also named to the Golden Boy award for being the tournament's top fighter.
So much buzz was generated that during fight week that legendary junior middleweight professional boxer Floyd Mayweather donated $40,000 to the event that also included a total six-figure package that was to be distributed to youth boxing.
An added special touch came when all 20 of the finalists in the Tournament of Champions were bused to Las Vegas later after the fights had been concluded to see Mayweather defeat Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand Garden.
The immense event required incredible coordination and in fact needed 80 officials from 30 Golden Gloves franchises from all over the country.
Judge Pat Van Doren of Indianapolis was among the many who praised the event.
D.C. Golden Gloves President Bobby Magruder, left, poses with 2012 National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions Tournament Director Dawn Sanchez and her father, Pat Barry, following the conclusion of the giant event presented at the CasaBlanca Event Center in Mesquite, Nev.
"It's all about the youth of our country," she said. "I would rather see a kid in the ring rather than doing something negative."
Golden, Colo. police officer Beau Campbell, who works as a ring captain and judge, said he gets a great thrill out of seeing Golden Gloves events. An individual who deals with juvenile crime on a daily basis, you might say that being a part of the good youth involved in the sport is therapeutic for him.
"This is a blast seeing these kids mature and being who they are," said Campbell. "As a coach, you get to see a kid when they're young move all the way up. They then grow up to become an asset to society."
Jim Beasley, executive director of the Golden Gloves of America, said the event was a huge success.
"It was a bit of a challenge for us to come to a community this remote," he said, "but knowing that the people here have been so cooperative has been a big plus. Also, there was a great confidence working with Barry's Boxing. It has been a lot of fun and the boxing went very well.
"We would love to come back."
Beasley said the boxers will remember their trip to Mesquite for the rest of their lives.
"We gave out some special awards that went to some of the athletes that really shined during this," he said. "All of your major U.S. champions have competed in the Golden Gloves."
Bobby Magruder, the president of Washington, D.C. Golden Gloves, loved the final results.
"I am absolutely tickled with this," he said. "We are elated, to say the least. Three of our boxers won titles and one other was a runner-up."
Magruder's team not only won the overall team trophy; but 165 pounder Jerry Odom was named the recipient of the Golden Boy Award in honor of the tournament's top boxer.
Mesquite Mayor Mark Wier also liked what he saw.
"This is pure sport," said Wier, a 49 year-old native of North Dakota. "They're doing it for the love of the sport. This is good stuff."
Amateur boxing will return to the CasaBlanca with the Junior National Golden Gloves Tournament July 18-21.
2012 National Golden Gloves
Tournament of Champions
CasaBlanca Event Center, Mesquite, Nev.
Saturday's three-round championship bouts
Leroy Davila, New Jersey, d. Ricardo Caraballo, Pennsylvania.
Shawn Simpson, Chicago, d. Hector Colon, Florida.
Gervonta Davis, Washington, D.C., d. Joseph Rodriguez, Texas.
Albert Bell, Toledo, d. Bryant Cruz, New York Metro.
George Rincon, Tex., d. Jamontay Clark, Cincinnati.
Alex Martin, Chicago, d. David Grayton, Washington D.C.
D'Mitrius Ballard, Washington, D.C. d. LeShawn Rodriguez, New York Metro.
Jerry Odom, Washington, D.C. d. Michael Reid, Wisconson.
Joseph Williams, New York Metro, d. Jordan Shimmell, Michigan.
201 pounds plus
Andrew Coleman, Cincinnati, d. Charles Martin, California.
Team Results: 1. Washington, D.C.; 2. Texas; 3. New York.
Next Golden Gloves event in Mesquite: Junior National Golden Gloves Tournament, July 18-21.