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An Uppercut Above

A passion for punching will be on display when amateur pugilists like Andre Bown lace ‘em up for ring bragging rights and Golden Gloves glory.

Article
Julie Watson
Photos
Marc Rains
Posted
December 29, 2017

From football to rodeo, Oklahomans are at the top of their game. On the field or in the ring, Okies have left their mark, and that tradition extends to the sweet science of boxing. Amateur fighters from around the state will gather at Tulsa’s Greenwood Cultural Center Jan. 27-28 to compete in the Oklahoma State Golden Gloves Tournament, the first step in the journey to the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions in Omaha in May, one of the most prestigious amateur boxing events in the U.S.

“These are some of the best boxers in the country who are competing, even at these state shows,” says Aaron Sloan, owner and head coach of Tulsa’s Engine Room Boxing Gym and the event’s promoter. “It’s a platform for Oklahoma’s up-and-coming boxers to exhibit their skills, an important accomplishment for any amateur boxer to have during his or her career.”

Historically, many national Golden Gloves champions have gone on to become outstanding professional boxers. Fighters like Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Oscar De La Hoya were all tournament winners before they turned pro. Plenty of Oklahoma fighters have held that national title, too, including 2017’s 123-pound champion Aaron Morales from Eufaula. In 2002, Tulsa professional boxer Allan Green won the 178-pound division, shaving two seconds o Mike Tyson’s two-decade old, eight-second tournament knockout record in the process.

Twenty-two-year-old Tulsa fighter Andre Brown is looking forward to the competition. The two-time Ringside World Championships titleholder will be putting his own 152-pounds up against some of the best fighters in the state.

Historically, many national Golden Gloves champions have gone on to become outstanding professional boxers. (Photo: Marc Rains)
Historically, many national Golden Gloves champions have gone on to become outstanding professional boxers. (Photo: Marc Rains)

“Even if you’ve never seen boxing, you’ll enjoy Golden Gloves,” Brown says. “People like seeing competitiveness. They like football. They like basketball. They like the intense, physical part of it. With boxing, you never know what you’re going to see, whether it’s a knockout or something else. That’s the intriguing part. With this event, you get to see it live with young fighters who haven’t even turned pro yet. You get to see these guys and see what they’re going to become before it even happens. I think that’s the best part of it.”

Brown, who played basketball in high school, tried his hand at boxing a few times before beginning to pursue it seriously at 18.

“I was fighting and getting into trouble,” he recalls with a laugh. “Somebody said, ‘Hey, you should box if you think you’re so tough.’ Later, I was watching Floyd Mayweather on TV, and I was like, ‘I could beat him. This looks easy.’”

One round in the ring at Tulsa’s King Street Boxing Gym quickly set Brown straight.

“I thought, ‘I can do this. I can just pick up the gloves and go over there.’ I thought I was going to be a superstar,” Brown says grinning.

The King Street trainers put Brown in the ring with then 15-year old boxer Angel Mora.

Andre Brown, who played basketball in high school, tried his hand at boxing a few times before beginning to pursue it seriously at 18. (Photo: Marc Rains)
Andre Brown, who played basketball in high school, tried his hand at boxing a few times before beginning to pursue it seriously at 18. (Photo: Marc Rains)

“I was like, ‘You guys may not want to put him in with me. I’m kind of dangerous,’” Brown recounts. “He beat the crap out of me.”

Despite his rough start, Brown kept returning week after week. In fact, his loss to the younger, more experienced fighter made him even more determined to master the sport.

“I’d always heard people say these boxers were just like me at one point, but I didn’t really believe it. There was no way they were this bad,” Brown explains. “I actually thought I was pretty good before I got in the ring. I thought I would be amazing at boxing because I could fight, but childhood fighting, that’s easy. I felt like I was an all-around athlete, but then I had my first fight, and I lost. That discouraged me, but it discouraged me in a good way. It made me want to stay and live in the gym.”

Four years later, Brown still loves the sport. He spends hours training in the gym each day. In addition to the physical challenge, he loves the mental aspect.

“It’s basically discipline. You’ve got to be able to play chess. You can’t play checkers,” he says. “If a guy hits hard and that’s his gift, well he still might not be able to box. He may not be able to throw a jab. He may not be able to do certain things, and you can build off that. I like outthinking the other guys.”

Brown can’t wait to climb into the ring once again for the state Golden Gloves tournament.

“You’re going to be able to see my swagger. It’s going to be electrifying,” Brown says with a smile. “I’m cocky, but I’m humble too. You’re going to see me throw a lot of punches; maybe I’ll wink at you in the crowd. I like to have fun out there, and you’re going to see it in the way I fight.” 

LOCATOR
Oklahoma State Golden Gloves Tournament
Greenwood Cultural Center
322 N. Greenwood Ave. | Tulsa
918-596-1020
engineroomboxing.com
Jan. 27-28