A Cedar Springs teen who has been boxing less than a year walked away with two Golden Gloves championships in the last month.
Jeff Knapp, 16, the son of Jeff and Catherine Knapp of Spencer Township, caught the boxing bug after one of his buddies was boxing with Golden Gloves last season. “We boxed in the basement some, and I wanted to continue to do it,” he said.
So he started training out of the Sand Lake boxing gym with a team of about 10 boxers, three times a week, sometimes more.
The West Michigan 2011 Golden Glove City Finals were held Saturday March 26, at the 44th street Armory in Grand Rapids. Sand Lake entered four boxers with only one walking away with the championship. Knapp, a Cedar Springs junior, won the 201lb sub-novice title by defeating teammate Tyler Kroes by 3rd round RSC. “I was really relaxed before the fight because Tyler and I spar and train together so I knew what to expect, but I also knew it would be a tough fight,” he said.
Other boxers who had championship bouts that day were Ricardo Rios 141lb open and Chad Bouwens 132lb novice. Rios lost a 4-1 decision to five-time Golden Glove champ Javon Barnes of Muskegon. The experience of the 28-year-old Barnes proved to be too much for Rios to contend with. Rios was awarded the Nick Spruit award, which is given to the boxer who best exemplifies the spirit of the Golden Gloves. Chad Bouwens was stopped in the third round of his bout with Defrim Beqiri of MGGA by RSC. Nate MacDonald and Zack Cross were both scheduled to box for Championships but suffered injuries in training.
The Golden Gloves state finals were then held Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9, at the 44th Street Armory. Rios and Bouwens both qualified for the State Tournament, and Knapp came along to watch. But he once again got to box when two boxers failed to show at weigh-ins, and he ended up winning the 201lb state championship over Pete Felver, of Lansing. “It’s really hard to believe, I planned on coming to watch but I knew there was a possibility I could fight,” said Knapp after the event. “I went from winning the city to winning the state title. I was really excited about it.” His record now stands at 2-0.
Rios suffered an injury during the week leading up to the tournament and could not compete. Bouwens lost by decision to Mazon Salzer of Pontiac in his semifinal bout.
Knapp said that for now he would keep on training until one of his trainers says he can fight in another event. And he’s grateful for the help and guidance he’s been given. “I’d like to thank my trainers, Jose Rios, Troy Rowland, and Steve, and everyone else that has supported me,” he said.