Grand Rapids ideal host for national Golden Gloves
by Steve Kaminski | The Grand Rapids Press
Sunday April 27, 2008, 12:10 AM
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Much bigger cities have hosted the Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions
than Grand Rapids, such as Chicago, Denver and Detroit. So have glitzier cities
such as Las Vegas, Miami and Honolulu. But Jim Beasley, the Golden Gloves
national executive director, called Grand Rapids as the perfect place to host the
2008 tournament, set for May 5-10. Grand Rapids has a place to box, lodging and
a loyal fan base. Grand Rapids was on the association's radar because of its
longstanding relationship with Dave Packer, who heads the Michigan Golden
Gloves. Plus, Grand Rapids is a Golden Gloves franchise city. The tournament's
location became official in April 2006 when Grand Rapids was awarded the
tournament over Boise, Idaho, in a vote by the 32 Golden Gloves franchise
representatives. Beasley said a facility is an essential requirement, and DeVos
Place downtown is ideal for such an event. A local committee has budgeted
approximately $46,000 to host the six-night tournament at DeVos. "We need a
facility that's big enough to hold three boxing rings, and we have that with the
DeVos," Beasley said. "We go down to one ring on Friday and Saturday of
tournament week, but we need three rings Monday through Thursday. "We
need a sizable facility, and one that's safe and clean. That's what we are looking
for." Issue No. 2 is hotels. Beasley said the association prefers a facility that is
within walking distance of its lodging, and for a tournament of this size,
approximately 300 rooms are needed. Local businessman Bob Sullivan
proposed to Packer a plan to hold the tournament at Ford Fieldhouse for about
$21,000 last year. However, the local committee stuck with the DeVos because
of its more convenient location. "We would like to house all of our boxers,
coaches and officials in two hotels, and we are looking for reasonable rates,
obviously, too," Beasley said. "There is a Courtyard by Marriott nearby as well
as a Day's Inn. "Sometimes, when you go to bigger cities, you may find yourself
in a challenging part of town. But we will feel comfortable and safe in Grand
Rapids." Beasley said the tournament also needs to find a community that
embraces boxing. Considering that Grand Rapids' Golden Gloves tradition dates
back to 1932, he is confident the event will be well supported in West Michigan.
"I've known Dave Packer for a number of years, and we have confidence in his
ability in hosting a tournament," Beasley said. "We believe in him because he
has had a lot of success in running the Michigan branch. Michigan always has a
large accompaniment of people going to nationals. We call them the Michigan
Mafia. "We want to go to a place with an existing fan base. Dave has always
been able to draw good crowds."