Golden Gloves franchises scattered around U.S.
by Steve Kaminski | The Grand Rapids Press
Sunday May 04, 2008, 12:15 AM
Email Webmaster
Website By:
Racecol Web Solutions
If anyone thinks that today's political landscape, in all of its red and blue state
glory, is confusing, then don't even think of trying to make sense of Golden
Gloves Geography 101. There are 30 Golden Gloves franchises sprinkled
throughout the United States, giving each section of the nation representation,
and there seems to be no rhyme or reason why these franchises are located
where they are -- except that that's the way it has always been. Check out the
crowded cluster in the Midwest, which includes franchises in Detroit, Grand
Rapids, Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland, as well as organizations in Indiana
and Wisconsin. It's a different scene out West, where four franchises are in
place to serve a vast 11-state area, making for interesting travel plans for those
coming in to fight in this week's National Golden Gloves Tournament of
Champions at the DeVos Place. Some boxers had to first travel hundreds of
miles just to compete in a qualifier, and those who won that tournament then
had to hop on a plane and head to Grand Rapids. There is more imbalance down
South. "It does all seem a little strange the way it is laid out," said Jim Beasley,
the Golden Gloves' executive director. "One area that you can say that about is
the Georgia franchise and all the area that covers. That encompasses North and
South Carolina, Western and Eastern Tennessee and Alabama. "You also have
Las Vegas, where fighters are coming from the state of Washington, Oregon and
California. It's so big you have fighters traveling up to 1,200 miles." Beasley
pointed out that the association wants no more than 32 franchises, so don't
except franchises to pop up in the future where there appears to be a void.
That's because a 32-boxer field for each weight class makes for an ideal bracket
during finals week. Any more franchises would turn one week into two, which
would put more strain on the boxers and rack up more costs for the teams.
There have been only two changes with the landscape over the past two
decades. Louisiana was absorbed into the Mid-South about 10 years ago when
the aging principal holders relinquished their franchise, Beasley said. The same
happened in Springfield, Mo., about 20 years ago, and that was divided up into
St. Louis and Chicago. "Initially, if you go back, the Golden Gloves were started
by the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News," said Dave Packer,
president of the Michigan Golden Gloves. "That goes back to the 1920s, and as it
became popular, they delegated the franchises out through the newspapers.
You had papers like the Kansas City Star and the Grand Rapids Press serve as
franchise holder for the Golden Gloves. "For some reason in 1964, the Tribune
dropped its support. Stan Gallup then formed the Golden Gloves Association of
America. He put the work in reestablishing contacts in those areas. The
territories stayed the same. It has been pretty much same since I can
remember." And that's how it appears they will stay. "Each franchise is
obligated to put together an event, then outfit and deliver their team to the
national tournament," Beasley said. "They pay for food and hotel. It's a big
responsibility. It can cost up to $25,000 per team to bring a team to nationals.
"So the governing body doesn't go in and make changes if the franchise is
functioning well. A franchise is a lucrative thing, and holders work hard to
protect it. If you have a territory assigned to you, you aren't anxious to give it
away. As long as it's productive, we don't go in and make changes. If someone
changes their mind, it goes back to the national body to be spread out and
redistributed." There appears to be no real demand for change either, which
Beasley pointed out and was backed by one coach whose team has to travel
hundreds of miles to fight in a qualifier. Tom Mustin, who operates the Tacoma
Boxing Club in Washington, said it cost about $12,000 to take his team of 10
boxers and two coaches 900 miles to the Las Vegas tournament last winter.
But Mustin said that's fine with him. Mustin, who served as the United States
boxing coach in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, will be bringing five boxers to
Grand Rapids. "We have been going to Las Vegas for 25 to 30 years now, and
it's not that bad of a trip," Mustin said. "There was a push a long time ago to
send us to Sacramento, but we would rather go to Las Vegas because there is
so much excitement for all of the guys. We do have sponsorship, so that helps
with the cost."