What usually is a space full of teenagers running around in gym clothes was turned into the center of the New York City boxing world on Thursday night, as Glen Cove High School hosted six quarterfinal round bouts in the 2010 Golden Gloves tournament.
Four men’s 165-pound weight class matches and two women’s 152-pound weight class bouts brought roughly 400 people to the school for more than 2 hours of competition.
“I like boxing, and my grandkids here are also interested, so I took I them to see the Golden Gloves,” said Glen Cove resident Tony Schettino.
“We may have a future champion here,” he said referring to one of his three grandchildren watching the bouts with him.
The fight of the night – and the one that created the most buzz – came in the second bout between James Clarke and Francisco Suero. The crowd booed as Clarke’s name was announced as the winner, and cheered as Suero exited the ring. Suero looked to be well in control in the third round after an even fight in the first two rounds, but in a 3-2 judges’ decision, Clarke came out on top.
“I took my time, and did what I had to do,” said Clarke on why he won the fight.
Schettino, a retired New York City police officer, said it was one of the better matches of the night.
“There was a lot of action in it,” he said.
The men fought for three rounds, which were three-minutes each, and the women fought for four two-minute rounds.
Frank Galarza, 24, of Brooklyn, earned a semifinal debut in one of the more physical bouts of the night. He defeated opponent Kevin Rooney with a 5-0 judges’ decision.
“I just tried to dig it out. Dig, dig, dig,” Galarza said afterward. “I was kind of expecting him to stay in there. He was a strong kid. But to the best man win.”
On the women’s side, a West Point senior earned the evening’s only knockout. Nargis Kabiri, 23, a Pipestone, Minn. native, won in convincing fashion just under 2 minutes into the second round. Kabiri, who received special permission from her superiors to get off campus for the fight, said she just went for the open shots.
“My coach told me just to pace myself,” Kabiri said after the fight. “It helped that she was shorter, it went straight to her head.”
Kabiri played two seasons for Army’s basketball team before trading in her jersey for a pair of gloves. Thursday marked the first boxing match of her career.
“I was actually anxious. I always wanted to fight,” she said. “I was just glad to have this opportunity.”
And the boxing semifinals in Nassau County will continue next week. On Tuesday, the Golden Gloves will go to Saint Catherine’s Church in Franklin Square, and the tournament will head to the Freeport Recreation Center on March 11.
The finals will take place at Madison Square Garden on March 25 and 26.