Boxing backer happy for Golden opportunity
by David Mayo | The Grand Rapids Press
Sunday April 13, 2008, 3:01 AM
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Dave Packer, director of the Michigan Golden Gloves, is the main reason the
national tournament is coming to Grand Rapids in May.
GRAND RAPIDS -- Dave Packer's passion for Golden Gloves never wanders
much farther from the surface than the dreams of many within his organization
to recapture their good old days. Ask the top man in Michigan Golden Gloves
about bringing next month's National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions
to DeVos Place, in the same location as the local amateur boxing tournament's
former Welsh Auditorium home, and he glows. "The place itself has a unique
atmosphere," Packer said, "and when I walked through there, I came in through
the old Welsh Auditorium, and looked around and said, 'This is exactly the same
place.'" Ask about his decision to leave a good career in the railroad industry
more than a decade ago and give himself completely to a volunteer post, and
he grows pensive. "Looking back, maybe I made some mistakes," he said. "I
probably could have taken care of my wife and my family better if I had kept
those jobs. But I really don't regret it. "I'm glad I did what I did, and it's time to
move on." Ask about his role in the only documented boxing fatality involving a
Grand Rapids man, when decorated Vietnam veteran Nick Spruit died 18 days
after their 1971 bout, and Packer turns respectfully solemn. "You know, I still
think about him, and it's important to me," Packer said. "He thought a lot of
boxing, and the family still thinks a lot of boxing. I think it's always in the back of
my mind that maybe he's an inspiration. Maybe he's there pushing me."
A local Golden Gloves hotbed made hosting the national tournament viable.
Floyd Mayweather's $140,000 donation guaranteed financial success.
But the 62-year-old Packer, of Walker, is why the 81st National Golden Gloves
came here.