(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) - USA Boxing is opening international action this week with elite and youth teams traveling to the Dominican Republic and Russia respectively. The two squads participated in a joint training camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., with USA Boxing International Teaching Coach Pedro Roque prior to departing on Saturday morning for their international competitive opportunities.
The nine-person elite squad traveled to Santiago, Dominican Republic for the 2014 Independence Cup, an annual tournament featuring teams from north, central and South America. The 2014 event will be the second straight Independence Cup for the U.S. squad with male light flyweight Leroy Davila (New Brunswick, N.J.) and female lightweight Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) both returning for a second run at international gold in the Dominican Republic. In addition to Davila, five 2014 USA Boxing National Champions and a silver medalist will represent the United States at the event. Bantamweight Jarico O’Quinn (Detroit, Mich.), lightweight Genaro Gamez (San Diego, Calif.), light welterweight Abraham Nova (Albany, Nova.), light heavyweight Julius Butler (St. Louis, Mo.), heavyweight Sardius Simmons (Flint, Mich.), and super heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas) will all compete in the Independence Cup for the first time this week. O’Quinn and Gamez will be the first U.S. boxers to take the ring in the Dominican Republic, facing off with opponents from the host nation and Mexico respectively in tonight’s action.
Coaches Enrique Cedeno (Milwaukee, Wis.), Jason Crutchfield (Flint, Mich.) and Luis Gamez (San Diego, Calif.) are leading the squad in Santiago with Dr. Robin Goodfellow (Albion, Mich.) serving as the Team Physician at her second straight Independence Cup.
While the elite squad enjoyed a short trip south to Santiago, the youth team traveled across the world to Anapa, Russia for Nikolay Pavlyukov Memorial international youth boxing tournament. The team arrived in Russia on Sunday evening and will complete their tournament preparation in an acclimation camp in Anapa. The tournament will begin with the opening ceremony and preliminary round action on February 20 and run through final round competition on February 23 at the Voley Grad Sports Complex.Light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas), bantamweight Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.), lightweight Isidro Ochoa (Fresno, Calif.), super heavyweight John Luna (Milwaukee, Wis.), and super heavyweight Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) are all scheduled to compete in the tournament. Coaches Willie Moses (Newark, N.J.) and Andrews Soto (Phoenix, Ariz.) are guiding the youth squad in Russia.
The two tournaments are the first international events of the year for USA Boxing, but top U.S. athletes will be traveling globally throughout the year as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro approach.