Golden Gloves boxing returns to Carver

By Marvin Birchfield

   The 69th Annual Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament will take place this weekend at Johnson City's Carver Recreation Center, which features a range of teams from the Southeast and Midwest regions.
   The doors open at 5 p.m. today, with the fighting taking place at 6. The event will resume on Saturday at the same time.
   "The tournament is expecting to have 21 different teams to participate, and the last event we had back around Thanksgiving, it was a packed house," said Johnson City Club boxing coach Scott Vance.
   Vance is a seven-time winner of the event, and he says the level of competition is back on the rise.
   "We've seen this event grow since last year, and all indications are that it will continue to have more of a turnout in the next couple of years," he said.
   The event has produced several great fighters ranging throughout the years, as former welterweight champion Frankie Randall from Morristown was once a participant.
   Another big-name fighter to compete in the event is Ricky Parkey, who lost to Evander Hollifield in a cruiserweight title fight.
   "The best of the best come through this tournament, and if you can't win this one, then you'll go nowhere," said JC Boxing Club trainer Cobb Riddle.
   Riddle is recognized for being over boxing in Elizabethton through 16 years at the old Boys/Girls Club building in Blackbottom.
   Unable to keep up with all the demands of running the establishment, Riddle shut down the program and now works with the fighters in Johnson City.
   "One of the toughest fighters I worked with in Elizabethton was Jason Brewer," said Riddle. "He was good and got the opportunity to train out of the same camp as champion Roy Jones Jr."
   It used to be that the winner of the Upper East Tennessee tournament advance onto the Southern Regionals, but even though there's now no qualification, it's still showcases the best fighters of the region.
   "Fifteen years ago, whoever won this event would go on and fight in the Southern Regionals, but with the lack of teams in our region, now they hold that event in Knoxville," said Vance.
   A few of the fighters to mention that will compete is Dillon Dawson out of Johnson City and national champion Randell Winteroff.
   Chris Edder is another fighter from Johnson City who not only fights, but is also an instructor to the younger guys.
   "Chris is one of our coaches who does a good job, plus he fights," said Vance. "He's a good prospect in the heavyweight division."
   Juilles Alberto is noted for his skills by being a strong body puncher with a good left hook.
   Larry Hardin is a fighter from Elizabethton who'll be looking to grab the super heavyweight crown in the novice division, along with youngsters Cody Utterback and Eddie Phelps, who are starting to produce.
   One fighter coming along in the past year is Ali Consongo, who was once overweight at 245 lbs., and now is down to 169 lbs.
   "It's a great story, and not only are we trying to promote boxing here, but also we try to help build character and self-esteem," said Vance.
   It should be an exciting event for everyone to enjoy, with over 150 fighters doing battle during the two days of action.
   "I'd like to thank Cobb Riddle for his dedication with helping train our fighters -- he's a big asset," said Vance. "The Johnson City boxing club also wants to thank Edwards and Zimbicki for putting this tournament together."