Fri­day night fights show­case skills

The Niagara Falls Review - - SPORTS - BERND FRANKE BFranke@post­media.com

There is some­thing up­com­ing on the Ni­a­gara sports cal­en­dar that will def­i­nitely be for the feint-hearted.

In fact, the 24th an­nual Ray McGib­bons Gloves is tai­lor-made for students of the Sweet Science. A 12- to 13-bout card hosted by the St. Catharines Box­ing Club and tak­ing place Fri­day, March 31, at the St. Catharines Op­ti­mist Club, 8 Napier St., is just what the ring­side doc­tor would or­der.

A night at the fights is also a fit­ting tribute to McGib­bon, a long-time coach who still shows up at the box­ing club to lend a hand “from time to time” though he’s 89.

“Ray still coaches oc­ca­sion­ally. Some­times, he would come in and work with kids on the bag,” Joe Cor­ri­gan, pres­i­dent of the box­ing club, said.

Cor­ri­gan started the tour­na­ment to show­case the skills of com­pet­i­tive fight­ers from the re­gion, most of whom train out of the club on Ni­a­gara Street. He felt their com­mit­ment to train­ing and hours spent at the gym should be re­warded with an op­por­tu­nity to box in front of fam­ily and friends.

Nam­ing the an­nual show in the re­tired GM worker’s hon­our was the “ob­vi­ous choice.”

“Ray coached here for 26 years and, be­fore that, he coached in Ni­a­gara Falls. We wanted to do some­thing to hon­our him,” Cor­ri­gan said.

“I think it’s awe­some, but he’s very hum­ble. He doesn’t want any lime­light on him. He just liked work­ing with the kids.”

Cor­ri­gan said he hopes to have as many as 13 fights lined up by the 7:30 p.m. bell time. How­ever, how many wind up tak­ing place may not be known “un­til the very last minute.”

“That’s usu­ally the case,” he said. “Some­times, a fighter doesn’t make weight, some­one drops out due to work.”

“One time I had five fight­ers com­ing up from the States to­gether can­cel the night be­fore, be­cause one of them couldn’t cross the border.”

Fights at the Ray McGib­bons Gloves will take place in the novice and open classes. Novice fights con­sist of three, two-minute rounds, while bouts in the open class will last a max­i­mum of three, three­minute rounds.

All fight­ers will wear pro­tec­tive head­gear, re­gard­less of class or ring ex­pe­ri­ence, Cor­ri­gan said.

Head­lin­ers from the St. Catharines club ex­pected to step into the ring in­clude Danny Ryan, an On­tario cham­pion and Cana­dian sil­ver medal­list in the 75-kilo­gram open class; Den­nis Stein­gart, who went 3-0 to top the 75-kg novice di­vi­sion at the re­cent Bramp­ton Cup tour­na­ment; and Karly McCabe, the home­town hope­ful in the women’s 60-kg class.

Ryan’s younger brother Gerry, open youth 64 kg; Jake Isenor, open 69 kg; and R.J. Clarke, cadet B novice 48 kg; are also shown on the poster pro­mot­ing the fight card at the Op­ti­mist Club.

In past years the Ray McGib­bons Gloves have at­tracted 300 to 400 peo­ple and, along with Mur­phys Gloves, for mas­ter box­ers; and a fundraiser for the Wise Guys Char­ity Fund, is one of big events the club hosts an­nu­ally.

At­ten­dance at Mur­phys Gloves was up­wards of 800 the first time Stein­gart, 22, fought in front of a home­town crowd.

“It felt a lit­tle nerve-rack­ing, but you get used to it once you start fight­ing,” the em­ployee at the Cosco in St. Catharines said.

Stein­gart re­turned to the ring last Novem­ber af­ter “tak­ing a break” from box­ing.

“I re­ally missed it,” he said of be­ing a part of the close-knit box­ing fra­ter­nity.

“It’s al­most like a fam­ily. At first it’s kind of in­tim­i­dat­ing, but af­ter you be­gin spar­ring with the guys and hear­ing them sup­port­ing you, you de­velop a mu­tual re­spect for each other.”

Stein­gart im­proved his record to 4-1 with his three unan­i­mous de­ci­sions at the Bramp­ton Cup.

“It’s pretty good to have one fight, let alone three fights in three days,” Cor­ri­gan said in prais­ing the young fighter’s per­for­mance at the re­cent tour­na­ment.

Stein­gart went the dis­tance in his first and fi­nal fight in Bramp­ton, while he was awarded the vic­tory af­ter the ref­eree stopped the se­cond fight.

BERND FRANKE/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Den­nis Stein­gart, 22, of St. Catharines hopes to im­prove on his 4-1 record fight­ing in the 24th an­nual Ray McGib­bons Gloves tak­ing place Fri­day, March 31, at the St. Catharines Op­ti­mist Club.

SUPPLIED PHOTO

Ray McGib­bons, 89, coached in Ni­a­gara Falls be­fore spend­ing 26 years coach­ing fight­ers at the St. Catharines Box­ing Club.

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