Jack Loew has taken fighters to the Cleveland Golden Gloves Tournament for 25 years and never left without a winner, be it in sub-novice, full-novice or open division action.
Having already trained two national champions in Kelly Pavlik and Durrell Richardson, he’ll have two more opportunities to add to that list when locals Vic Toney and John Gregory head to this year’s national event in Salt Lake City.
The tournament, which will take place at the Salt Palace Convention Center, will attract 300 of the country’s top amateur hopefuls May 13-18 and ironically, no longer features the 147 pound weight class where Pavlik and Richardson each won their titles.
“Both Vic and John have worked hard and are well-deserving of this opportunity,” Loew said. “Both fighters have less than 20 total fights to their credit, so to beat more seasoned opponents in order to get to the national tournament is a testament to the hard work and effort that they have put forth.”
Toney, a 165-pound fighter, punched his ticket to nationals by defeating Levi Patterson in the semifinals, and then Jose Rodriguez for the championship.
“Vic has really been a pleasant surprise,” Loew said. “He’s a great all-around athlete and that is the sole reason that he has developed at a faster pace. He has an awkward style and gets away with a lot in the ring because of that athleticism. He has great balance but his best attribute is that he is never out of position.”
Toney, the son of former local Golden Gloves champion Leslie Toney, stopped Patterson by forcing two standing eight-counts, following that up with two more standing eight-counts while twice knocking out Rodriguez’s mouthpiece in the title match.
Combined, Toney’s two opponents boast more than 150 amateur fights.
“My father always preached work harder than the next man, not only in boxing but in life and I would go far,” Toney said. “Like my father, Jack pushes me from the time I enter the gym until the time I leave and corrects me as soon as something needs corrected.
“I’m a jab-first, defensive type of fighter with my jab making my opponent think and my defense forcing them to throw more punches than ordinarily would throw.”
Gregory, who has trained with Loew less than two years, went 3-0 in the tournament and at 152 pounds, joins Toney at nationals after winning a three-round, unanimous decision over Rodriguez’s brother, David.
He might just be his own biggest surprise.
“John was all but written off when he came to us,” Loew said. “ He was his own worst enemy but has worked hard, gotten into shape and bought into our system. Sparring with pros like Willie Nelson, Prentice Brewer and Bart Simmons has only helped. Going into this year’s Cleveland Golden Gloves, he had never won a bout, now he’s won three in a row and is heading to the national tournament. I expect both fighters to have a good showing at nationals.”
While Gregory doesn’t consider himself a reclamation project, he readily admits that it was Loew responsible for his 360-degree turnaround.
“What Jack has done for me is that he has gotten me to ‘think’ boxing and not just ‘punch’ boxing,” Gregory said. “I needed to get back to the basics and he has been there to push me. He knows what I need to do in order to get to the next level. It was actually harder for me to hit my sparring partners than it was my three Golden Gloves opponents.”
Both fighters will use the next two weeks in order train and prep for the national stage. They’ll depart for Salt Lake City on May 12.
K.O. DRUGS REGISTRATION
Late registration for this year’s 25th K.O. Drugs High School Boxing Tournament will take place Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods in both Niles and Boardman.
Sign-ups in Niles will be held between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. while registration at their Boardman location will take place from 3 to 6 p.m.
A $25 registration fee is required of all participants in order to cover their physical exam and health insurance while students 18 years and under will require parental consent.
More information can be obtained by calling Chuck Nelson at 330-423-2203 or Pat Nelson at 330-727-0932.