Shabazz's long day ends with Golden Gloves loss
by Steve Vedder | The Grand Rapids Press
Wednesday May 07, 2008, 2:15 AM
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GRAND RAPIDS -- The toughest part of Siju Shabazz's day isn't predicting the approach of
a devastating right hook or fending off a couple of teeth-rattling blows to the rib cage. For
Shabazz, the only defending champion at this week's National Golden Gloves Tournament
of Champions at DeVos Place, that's probably the easiest part of a long day. The toughest
part, between wolfing down a quick breakfast at Big Boy at 6:30 in the morning and his
opening-round fight 14 hours later, is finding whatever he can to take his mind off what will
be one of the defining moments of a 22-year-old's life. Ever wonder what a boxer finds to
occupy his time in the long hours before his fight? For Shabazz, from Las Cruces, New
Mexico, his day Tuesday included a team photo, a quick nap, lunch at Calder Plaza, back to
the hotel room for another couple hours of shut eye, squirming in front of the television and
finally arriving at DeVos Place at about 5:45 p.m. for a fight against the lone member of
Haiti's one-man Olympic boxing team that wouldn't start for another two hours. An alternate
on the U.S. boxing team headed to Beijing this summer, Shabazz can take the physical
punishment of Golden Gloves, ignore the pressure of winning back-to-back titles and being
hundreds of miles away from a family that includes 28 brothers and sisters. What he can't
take is the waiting. "It's pretty tough, you're anxious all day," said Shabazz as he sat in the
cubbyhole reserved for the Colorado-New Mexico Golden Gloves team about two hours
before his fight with Azea Augustama of Hollywood, Fla. "It's worse because I'm in a heavier
class (light heavyweight), so you have to wait even more. "You feel alone. One of my
brothers tried to come, but he couldn't. I haven't been with my coach for three months, so
that's tough. All you can do is chill and watch other fights and try to stay focused." The
highlight of the day, if he relax enough to manage it, are the two naps. "I usually don't get
much sleep," he said sheepishly. "Too anxious." Waiting aside, Shabazz said the toughest
part is being without a large extended family that includes one brother, Siddeeq, a former
draft pick of the NFL's Oakland Raiders who plays for the Edmonton Eskimos of the
Canadian Football League, and another brother, Shukree, who formerly played in the CFL
and now plays in the AFL2. To kill time before his fight, Shabazz picked his way around the
three DeVos Place rings, found a seat but quickly got back up, and wandered back to the
curtained off tables reserved for his club team. He finally began the process of being taped
up about an hour before his fight. As for the fight with Augustama, a burly 23-year-old native
of Haiti fighting in his first National Golden Gloves, it turned out that Shabazz's long day
wouldn't have a happy ending. Despite Shabazz's claim afterward he felt he was ahead
virtually the entire fight, the judges saw differently and awarded a unanimous decision to
Augustama. Afterward, Shabazz sat by himself before he finally picked up his cell phone to
make a call and answer questions. "No way I thought I lost," he shrugged. "I felt like I got
better with every round and he got worse. "I'm in shock, I'm numb. It's like I don't even mind. I
know I didn't lose." Shabazz was asked about his future and, again, he shrugged. He said
he'll fly out of Grand Rapids today or Thursday back to the Olympic Training Center in
Colorado and possibly be ready to fight again in Alabama by the end of the week. "I'm over
it," he said after stuffing a stack of clothes in a bag. "It's happened so many times, it's part of
the sport. If this was a pro fight, I would've won big time." "I just have to look at it as good
experience," he added. "There are good things to come. It's just the start of my career."