Munoz gunning for Golden Gloves national title
by Steve Vedder | The Grand Rapids Press
Tuesday April 29, 2008, 8:42 AM
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GRAND RAPIDS -- Richard Munoz thought he had just finished off the fight of his
life, but what he remembers most is holding his breath awaiting the decision of
the judges. "There was this moment of silence. Everybody was just so quiet
until the announcer said the winner was from the red corner," Munoz said of his
upset of Ryan Schmidt in the state Golden Gloves finals April 12. "Then the
feeling was overwhelming." Munoz, a Grand Rapids native who turned 18 on
April 20, did not think he would have a moment that matched the 3-2 decision
against Schmidt, a three-time state open champion. But not only can the
125-pound Munoz match that moment, he can surpass it by winning at the next
level: the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, set for May 5-10 at
DeVos Place. Munoz, one of 10 local boxers introduced at Monday's nationals
media day at the Michigan Golden Gloves Association gym on Leonard Street,
recognizes that is a big if. Still, Munoz has a solid boxing resume that could
leave him in contention for a national title. The MGGA member qualified for last
year's bantamweight nationals. By his own admission, however, he was
intimidated by his first trip to nationals and lost in the first round. While that loss
was disappointing, Munoz, a two-time Michigan Golden Gloves open state
champion, thinks of himself as a different boxer this time around. Armed with
the experience of last year and possessing what he believes are improvements
in quickness, the ability to deliver more punches and increased stamina, Munoz
said he has a simple goal for nationals. "I want to go out there and win in my
hometown," he said. "There are going to be a lot of people coming to watch me,
and I'm not going to let them down." Munoz said there is a definite pressure in
fighting in a hometown, but that is not necessarily bad. He attended Union High
School for a year and now goes to the Northwest Career Pathways school.
"You feel pressure, but what drives me is how many people who are going to
buy a ticket to see me," he said. "That drives me to do well. Pressure is not
always a bad thing." Munoz has been a member of the MGGA stable since he
was 13. He remembers finding himself in scrapes as a youngster and decided it
might be more productive to test that talent in a ring. "I was always in fights in
school," he said. "I thought I might as well put that to use. I've always been a
little guy, and big guys always seemed to be testing me." The West Michigan
Sports Commission estimates the national tournament will attract about 1,000
boxers, coaches, tournament officials and other representatives and family into
Grand Rapids for the six-day event. Tickets are $12 to $52 and are available at
DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box offices and Ticketmaster ticket centers,
including D&W stores, Macy's and select Family Fare locations