“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” - Mark Twain
by Michael Sarko
- The Capitol Hill Times -
When Sahib Singh and Luis Delacarda step into the ring at the third annual Central District Boxing Revival on Oct. 6, they have to slide between the lowest two ropes. Neither is tall enough to navigate any higher. They are the first boxers to enter the ring for the night, representing the 70 pound weight class and the youngest bracket of the event.
Singh hails from the Universal Solution Martial Arts Academy in Bellingham. Delacarda is not affiliated with any gym. They box the way one would expect kids to box: they move quickly, swing liberally, and always aim for the face. Still, in the messy fray, it’s possible to detect the foundations of two, distinct styles. Sahib Singh, beneath a mass of long hair, shows fury and intensity that might intimidate a boxer with a defensive stance, but it can’t break Delacarda’s steady stick-and-move. After three rounds (the maximum for all but one of the night’s bouts), Luis Delacarda takes home a win on points.
The Boxing Revival is a neighborhood event that celebrates the culture of the Central District, but it’s also a great point of entry for those who know little of the sport. As it rises through the age brackets and skill ranks, the night demonstrates so much about the style, technical skill, and emotional investment of boxing. Eleven bouts go by at a dizzying pace with boxers from all around the Northwest and parts of Canada exhibiting a broad range of punch-sport strategies.
Some of the most harrowing fights are the ones that pit two boxers of a similar style against one another. Bouts two, eight, and ten work this way. At the start, Brennan Phelan stands in the red corner representing Cappy’s, the night’s hosting boxing gym not far from the Garfield Community Center where the Revival took place. Phelan’s style is conservative. He bides his time to find the right opening, but the similarly defensive approach of his opponent, Gabriel Martz of the Canadian gym, Griffins, makes things difficult. Forced to be more aggressive than he planned, Phelan opens himself up too much and takes some hits early on. When he makes a last ditch effort to swing hard and wide, he whiffs and receives a solid clock to the chin for his mistake. He can’t recover and Martz wears him down for the win.
Much later in the night, Jake Szilasi of Spokane and Terrell Melton of Team Evolution in Tacoma rattle at each other in fits and starts. They both have an intermittently frantic style that relies on quick jabs and fast flurries. Often looking like a man boxing in the mirror, they land few punches in the early going. It’s not a bout for haymakers, but a war of attrition. Melton comes out on top, but just barely.
It’s another story entirely in Bout 10, the night’s bloodiest affair. Team Evolution sends another boxer, the intensely focused Cameron Sevilla Rivera, to face Seattle’s Kevin Strothers. They are both highly technical fighters with nearly perfect form and a strong instinct for targeting. A lot of punches fly and many of them land. Strothers is the first to draw blood after launching a barrage that nearly ends the fight. Rivera returns the favor in the second round, pushing through the pain, exhaustion, and vertigo to keep both feet firmly planted, against all reason. The crowd roaring and out of its seats, the bout somehow avoids a knockout and goes to a close decision to give Rivera the win.
Structure can be a liability without discipline, though. That much, Memo Maldonado of Nation of Outlaws in Auburn, knows for certain. He spends much of his match against the unaffiliated Paul Rosado intentionally dropping his guard into a loose, goading position. Maldonado’s hands hang low and his chin is out, trying to get the more traditional Rosado to take the bait. At first, it doesn’t work, but the psychological pummeling of Maldonado’s form and fast, unpredictable strikes wears Rosado down. Rosado finally swings at Memo’s lanky stance, misses, and takes enough retaliation to lose the fight.
The most downright frightening display of the Boxing Revival is the frenetic battery of Olympiad-in-training Jen Hamann’s four rounds against Janae Jackson. The only women’s match of the night, it ends the Revival on a stunning note. Jackson is a tough fighter who stays strong despite the ferocity of her opponent, but it’s not enough. Hamann comes in tight and low, attacking with an intensity seen nowhere else at the event. Though she looks tired by the end of the fourth round, Hamann never relents. What she does is far from easy, but a victory is just a matter of course.
Boxing is one of the Northwest’s many secret but enthusiastic worlds. Gyms like Cappy’s, USMAA and Bumblebee bring in kids from a variety of backgrounds and introduce them to a sport that can be as mesmerizing as it is brutal. Even Capitol Hill is starting to get in on this game with the Seattle Boxing Studio on Broadway between Pike and Union. Each bout is a story and the Central District Boxing Revival is an anthology demonstrating how one person can evolve from a fiery-fisted kid into a terrifyingly effective martial artist.