Detroit's Craig Lewis, left, exchanges blows with Philadelphia's Paul Koon during the
National Golden Gloves heavyweight final Saturday night. Lewis, who won, may turn
pro this summer. GRAND RAPIDS -- Craig Lewis finished scribbling his name on a
handful of photos, T-shirts and programs after his win in Saturday's heavyweight
finals of the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions and made a
not-so-startling announcement. He's done with amateur boxing. A 23-year-old native
of Detroit, Lewis said his 3-2 decision against Paul Koon of Philadelphia was likely
his last amateur bout. He'll meet with advisors this week, but the plan is to turn
professional this summer. Lewis, who beat Hudsonville's Jordan Shimmell in the
heavyweight semifinals, said he has lofty ambitions. "I want to bring the heavyweight
championship of the world back to the United States," he said. Lewis said he's
accomplished all he can do in amateur boxing. Money aside, he said an attraction of
professional boxing is longer matches. Lewis said the three- or four-round format of
amateur boxing does little to enhance one of his major attributes: stamina. "It was a
wonderful experience," he said of the amateur game. "But I don't like so few rounds.
I want to go four, eight, 12 rounds, whatever I can." Lewis, who estimated he has
had fewer than 50 amateur bouts, said he knows a successful professional career
will take a good deal of work. "I've still got things to work on, but I've only been
boxing for three years," he said. Lewis isn't the only boxer at last week's Golden
Gloves looking forward to an interesting summer. Azea Augustama of Miami, who
beat Geremias Torres on 5-0 decision in the light heavyweight final, is headed to
Beijing for the summer Olympic games. A native of Haiti, Augustama tried out for the
2004 Olympics but fell short. "Every time I watch something dealing with the
Olympics, it brings a tear to my eye," he said. "The Olympics are such a huge deal
for me. Honestly, I think I have a good chance (to win). I am going to have to adjust
my style at 178 (after boxing at 201 last week), but I think I have a chance." As for
his Golden Gloves title, he said, "It was a busy week. Three of my fights felt like
championship fights." Sammy Vasquez, a 22-year-old boxer from Monessen, Pa.,
who lost to Steven Martinez in the welterweight final, plans to box in the National
Police Athletic League finals and wants to return to the Golden Gloves nationals, but
there's something that might stand in the way: war. Vasquez was stationed in Iraq
from 2005-06 as an Army specialist. He's not sure what's going to happen later this
year, but there's a chance his boxing career could be put on hold because of his
military service. "I may have to go back," he said. "All the guys in my (unit) are going
back in January, and I may have to go back after that if they need me to." Saphya
Douglin, who trains her son Denis, the winner of Saturday's middleweight
championship, said she's been asked countless times why a woman would want to
find herself in the middle of a male-dominated sport. Douglin said she does it
because she possesses a knowledge of boxing that helps her son. An accountant in
Brooklyn, Douglin owns New Breed Boxing gym in Freehold, N.J. "It's not about me,"
she said. "I don't live my life vicariously through him. It's about him. I can make him a
better boxer." New England trainer John Curran is 67 and has spent more than 40
years in boxing. He said he has seen plenty in the sport that has amazed, moved,
angered and saddened him, but one of the memories he'll take from the Grand
Rapids Golden Gloves is the New England contingent winning last week's team title.
It's a championship that might spur him to put in another 40 years in the sport.
"Boxing is my passion, and life without passion is very boring," he said. "My wife
asked why I wanted to go to another national. I told her I can't meet another 300
people who are as crazy as me anywhere else."
Fighters hope to build on Golden Gloves success
by Steve Vedder and Jeff Chaney | The Grand Rapids Press
Monday May 12, 2008, 10:00 AM
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