(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – A squad of top 15 and 16-year-old boxers will face off against elite international foes at the Veles Cup in Kurgan, Russia, July 16-21. The 13-athlete squad includes seven reigning national champions from the recent Junior Olympic National Championships and 12 members of the team claimed spots on the medal stand at the recent tournament. They could face opponents from Italy, France, England, Kazakhstan and Ireland in the international tournament.
The squad departed for Russia on July 7 and are currently taking part in a camp in the host nation through July 15. The seven national champions looking to continue their winning streaks in Russia are: pinweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas), light bantamweight Ruben Villa (Salinas, Calif.), bantamweight Efren Lopez (Fresno, Calif.), featherweight Christian Bermudez (New York, N.Y.), light middleweight Alexis Rocha (Santa Ana, Calif.), light heavyweight Elvis Figueroa (New Haven, Conn.), and heavyweight John Luna (Milwaukee, Wis.). Light flyweight Hector Tanajara (San Antonio, Texas), flyweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), lightweight Edgar Berlanga (New York, N.Y.), and welterweight John Williams (Baton Rouge, La.) all claimed silver medals at the Junior Olympic National Championships. Light welterweight Johnathan Navarro (Los Angeles, Calif.) won a bronze medal while Manjaro Hills (Baton Rouge, La.) took fifth place at the premier junior tournament in the United States.
Junior Olympic program veteran Al Simpson (Charlotte, N.C.) will lead the squad as head coach with Ted Palac (Hamtramck, Mich.) and Jennifer Han (El Paso, Texas) serving as assistant coaches. Former Junior Olympic program chairman Howard “Sonny” Duncan (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will be the Team Manager for the event with Mike Rosario (New York, N.Y.) serving as the AIBA official.