BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Heads up, boxing fans! The Buffalo Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament is right around the corner!
On Tuesday, some fighters who will be participating in the Golden Gloves on February 1st met with the media to showcase their talents in some friendly sparring, and alongside the hopeful boxers was one of Buffalo’s own.
Coming off his big win on Showtime in December, five time Golden Glove winner Lionell Thompson spoke about how he went from the streets of Buffalo to the bright lights of Las Vegas, and it all started at the Northwest Buffalo Community Center.
“I started right here in the Northwest Buffalo Community Center, coming here every day, rain, sleet, snow, running trying to put this city on the map, trying to be the first world champion to come out of the city of Buffalo,” Buffalo native Lionell Thompson said.
“It feels good to be back home, this is where it all started at. Being in the gym, just looking around, coming in here. That was the first ring I was ever dropped in. I overcame a lot of obstacles in that ring. I remember coming in here and sparring, bloody noses, going home with headaches, and I know that’s what a lot of these gentlemen are going through.”
Throughout his journey from amateurism to professional boxing, Lionell Thompson credits his Queen City roots for making him the man, and the fighter, that he is today.
“I always say these guys aren’t cut from the same cloth I’m cut from, where we’re cut from. Buffalo is a tough city, if you ever grew up in the inner city, it’s a tough city. You’ve got to be hard growing up here,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s journey from the inner city of Buffalo to Vegas never would have started had it not been for boxing.
“Primarily what it is is a youth development program. Through boxing, our mission is to give kids guidance, give them a safe space, let them learn the principles that are going to bring them success in life, and help them achieve goals etc. to go on from there,” Buffalo Golden Gloves President Don Patterson said.
“A lot of the youth, a lot of the teens our officers work with, teens in general have a lot of aggression to them and are at risk youth,” Buffalo Police Captain Steve Nichols said. “They might come from a broken family, have a parent in prison, a lot of them are heading down the wrong path, a lot of them are dropping out in school, and if we can find a way to get them to focus, and to get them excited and get a little pride in themselves and strive for a goal, like Lionell said. I think boxing can do that, it can help with that.”
“It’s been really well recepted in Buffalo, we have a lot of kids wanting to be involved,” Patterson said. “The vast majority of these kids that come in here will never be professional boxers, some will have successful amateur careers, but through boxing we can teach them life lessons that are going to make them successful in whatever they do. That’s the goal.”
The New York State Golden Gloves Tournament takes place at Buffalo River Works on February 1st.