The Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions has been contested without interruption since March 24, 1928. On that date, the Chicago amateur champions met those champions from the city of New York in the old Coliseum. The result of that meeting was an 8 to 8 draw and it was the beginning of a national tradition.
Although this was the first tournament of the Golden Gloves as we know it today, the groundwork had been done five years earlier in 1923, when the Chicago Tribune staged an amateur boxing tournament to test the state of Illinois’ anti-boxing law. The announcement followed a Tribune editorial a week earlier which took to task a number of reformers who had closed an amateur program that the Illinois Naval Force had attempted to hold. The Tribune indicated they would stage a boxing show, not as an attack upon the legislation that banned boxing for nearly 20 years, but rather as a test of it.
The first tournament was a tremendous success. It was scheduled for a three-night run, but to accommodate the large field of 424 boxers who entered, an extra three nights were needed to run it off. Six thousand dollars, the net proceeds for the event, was presented to a fund to help disabled war veterans. There had been an attempt to halt the meet by such organizations as the National Reform Association and the Law and Order League. An injunction was obtained to prevent the stopping of the event, thus boxing in Illinois was on its way back. Despite its success, the Tribune decided not to renew the tournament until boxing was legalized, a situation eventually brought about by Illinois voters in 1926. Meanwhile, in the spring of 1927, the New York Daily News conducted a program called the Golden Gloves Tournament. Then the Chicago Tribune announced that it would hold a Golden Gloves Tournament in March of 1928. This promotion was a tremendous success! It ran for five night before packed houses. Once again the profits went for the disabled war veterans.
Following the tournament, the Tribune’s sports editor called the sports editor of the New York Daily News, the great Paul Gallico and suggested an inter-city meet. This was agreeable to New York thus setting the format the Golden Gloves tournaments were conducted under for many years. Certain state and regional winners would meet in their respective sections of the country and then fight in the New York Golden Gloves. Annually the winners representing the two cities would meet in a “National Tournament of Champions”.
As more states and regions of the country became interested in conducting Golden Gloves Tournaments, franchises were delegated to newspapers and the tournament format continued to grow. In 1931 the Grand Rapids Press acquired the right to conduct the Michigan Golden Gloves and the first Michigan Championships were held that year. In the twenties, amateur boxing competitions had been conducted by the American Legion, Furniture City Post who joined forces with the press in conducting the tournament. This association continued until 1963 when the Chicago Tribune decided to discontinue their sponsorship of the tournament. That same year several other newspapers, including the Grand Rapids Press discontinued their sponsorship as well. However, this did not deter the avid supporters of the Golden Gloves. In 1964 under the direction of Stan Gallup of Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Golden Gloves Association of America was formed. Various organizations around the country began to pick up Golden Gloves franchises from the newly formed organization and continue the rich tradition of Golden Gloves.
In Michigan, American Legion Furniture City Post #258, under former director Robert C. Todish and current director David Packer continued to run the tournament up until 1988, at which time the post voted to discontinue their support. At this time, under the direction of David Packer, the current Michigan Golden Gloves Association, Inc. was formed. This organization, consisting of former Golden Gloves participants and avid amateur boxing supporters has continued to conduct the annual amateur boxing classic ever since.
Under the leadership of the late Arch Ward of the Chicago Tribune, Golden Gloves advanced to international status with winners meeting teams from all over Europe. It also to this day plays a major role in the selection of representatives for the U.S. Olympic Team. Golden Gloves has been the springboard by which numerous professional greats have launched their careers. Many which have become world champions. Perhaps, of highest prominence are Joe Louis and Mohammed Ali and well-known Michigan champions and contenders, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Buster Mathis Jr., Tony Tucker, Buster Mathis Sr., Kenny Lane and currently ranked professional Jordan Shimmell and Johnny Garcia. Nearly every notable boxer or champion has cut his teeth on Golden Gloves….the greatest name in amateur boxing.
Golden Gloves has a long and proud history that few other sports can match. We here in Grand Rapids, Michigan feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to carry on this great tradition in our community and are proud to say that on March 14th we will kick-off the 89th annual championship at the DeltaPlex. The Tournament will continue March 21st & 28th, with the State Championships to follow April 17th & 18th. Our Michigan Champions will then move to the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions May 3 through 9 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Michigan Golden Gloves Association, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit youth sports organization which sponsors and promotes amateur boxing programs for young people from all walks of life. We truly care about boxing, but more importantly, its effects on today’s youth. Our objective is not only to build champions in the ring but to build good citizens outside the ring. We know that the many hours of hard work in the gym have assisted the boxers in developing self-discipline and good work ethics. These lessons will follow them long after their days of boxing.
Please come out and support this event on its 89th anniversary, cheer on the Boxers and witness some of the best sports action you will see anywhere.
For additional information you may contact Dave Packer at the Michigan Golden Gloves office, (616) 784-0862, or Cheri Szendre at: (231) 652-0176.