There are some people who truly believe that the sport of boxing is dying.
“You hear a lot that the MMA [mixed martial arts] is taking over,” said Joe Botti, the manager and owner of the Union City Boxing Club. “But boxing is centered around some great athletes.”
Botti should know better than most, because his team just captured the overall team title at the recent New Jersey Diamond Gloves state championships.
The Diamond Gloves is New Jersey’s oldest amateur boxing tourney, dating all the way back to 1933.
This marks the fifth time that Union City has captured the team title, three times under the auspices of the Golden Gloves and twice now as reigning Diamond Glove champs.
The Union City Boxing Club crowned six individual champions, both male and female. The champions were: Deandre Guzman, who is only 9 years old, and the champion of the 60-pound division; 11-year-old John Bauza, who won the 75-pound weight class; Herkin DelaRosa, who won the 125-pound novice division; 15-year-old Carlos Lopez, who was the 138-pound champ; Ariel Rodriguez, who won the 141-pound sub-novice division; and Peralta Adonis, who won the 125-pound open division.
Two other Union City boxers, namely Felix Tejada (132-pound novice) and William Arevalo (141-pound sub-novice) reached the finals in their respective divisions.
“This is a very rewarding championship, because this team is very young and very inexperienced,” said Botti, who has been operating the Union City Boxing Club for the last 20 years. “That’s what makes this enjoyable, seeing kids who have been boxing for a year or maybe less becoming champions. We’ve been taking them all over the area, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, to get them a bit of experience. It’s a very satisfying win.”
Botti said that he has approximately 80-90 boxers working out regularly at his gym located on Bergenline Avenue.
“Boxing is definitely not dead,” Botti said. “We’re getting new boxers all the time, from as young as 8 years old and some are in their 50s. All different ages, both men and women. Boxing is getting more popular, thanks to shows like Pacquiao/Cotto [the reality series on HBO]. It creates interest and makes kids want to come to the gym.”
Botti is excited that his protégé, Juan Rodriguez, will come out of the amateur ranks, where he was ranked No. 8 in the country, to make his professional debut Dec. 4 at Essex County College in Newark. Rising star Jason Escalera, the boxing produce manager, is another Botti product. Escalera is nursing a broken wrist right now, but should be back in the ring early 2010…
Hoboken native Michael Orock, who is currently playing in his senior year at Wagner College on Staten Island, had a monstrous game Tuesday night against NJIT. Orock had a game-high 22 points and 14 rebounds in a dominating performance, but Wagner lost the game, 56-51. But it was good to see Orock playing like the powerful inside presence everyone knew he could be when he was coming out of Hoboken High a few years ago…
Hudson Reporter High School Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (8-2). 2. Secaucus (9-0). 3. Lincoln (8-2). 4. North Bergen (5-5). 5. St. Anthony (6-3)….
Kudos to the New Jersey Devils for going above and beyond the call in helping the family of a local hero.
The Devils announced two events that will help the Marc DiNardo Memorial Foundation in the coming days.
First, on Dec. 13, the Devils’ alumni team will face the Jersey City Police Department in a game at the Prudential Center in Newark. In addition, the Devils will honor DiNardo’s memory and his family on Dec. 18, when they play the Ottawa Senators, also at the Prudential Center. Reduced ticket prices for $55 are being sold for $36, with proceeds of those sales going to the foundation, which will help the family of the slain Jersey City Police detective.
The benefit game with the Devils’ alumni team and the JCPD was originally slated to be played at the AmeriHealth Pavilion, the Devils’ practice rink.
But Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek thought that to honor DiNardo and his family, the game should be moved to the bigger facility to accommodate more people.
“Prudential Center is honored to celebrate Detective DiNardo and his love for the sport of hockey,” Vanderbeek said in a statement. “We greatly respect his service to protect Jersey City residents and want to help create a lasting memorial to his heroism.”
Some of the Devils’ alumni that will play in the game include Ken Daneyko, Bruce Driver, Randy Velischek, Jim Dowd, Chico Resch, Valeri Zelepukin, Rob Skrlac and Grant Marshall. Tickets are priced at $20.
The 37-year-old DiNardo died July 21, five days after he was involved in a shootout. He left his wife and three young children. DiNardo was a former hockey player during his days at Hudson Catholic. For more information, contact the Jersey City Police Department or the Devils’ box office…
The Hudson Reporter All-Area soccer team will be released in next week’s editions, as will more in-depth features on Secaucus and St. Peter’s Prep’s trips to the state championships at Giants Stadium…
Hudson County was not directly represented at last Saturday’s NJSIAA Meet of Champions cross country race, but there were some competitors with Hudson County ties, like CBA’s Mike Mazzaccaro, whose family originates from Jersey City; as well as Red Bank Catholic’s Heather Rochford and Villa Walsh’s Kinlin O’Brien, both of whom have fathers who hail from the Greenville section of Jersey City. There’s proof that everyone has someone who is from Jersey City… -- Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.