Madison’s Briana Che is the National Golden Gloves Champion. Che, who fights out of Ford’s Gym on the near east side, became the first woman to win the national championship from Wisconsin when she won the national tournament of champions in the 165 lbs weight class.
It was only the second year that women were allowed to compete in the men’s Golden Glove nationals and Che is the only woman from Wisconsin to have competed in the joint tournament.
Che’s victory is emblematic of the revitalization of Wisconsin’s boxing scene. Ever since Andrea Nelson of the Bob Lynch Boxing Foundation began overseeing Golden Gloves in Wisconsin and local boxing in general, the sport has seen a sharp upswing in both the talent of the fighters and the quality of events.
Following a successful Wisconsin Golden Gloves event in Middleton in March, Wisconsin sent it’s most formidable team ever to nationals in Chattanooga, TN. The fighters, trainers and coaches traveled as a team and stayed together in a house on the river during the tournament.
“It was awesome,” coach Andrea Nelson told Madison365. “We had just a great group of people. The whole experience was awesome. I think all of the boxers had a good time.”
Initially, Wisconsin fielded a team of 7 boxers but due to injuries, two of the fighters weren’t able to compete. However, 3 out of the 5 members of the team that competed made it to the semi-finals or finals, a rousing validation of all the work the fighters and Nelson have been doing.
Kenosha native Luis Alvarado, a nationally known super heavyweight, made it to the semi-finals as did lanky up-and-comer Demetrious Reed, who fights at 201+. Madison natives Marcus Johnson and Ricardo Rodriguez put on solid boxing displays as well but were not awarded victories by decision following their bouts.
Rodriguez, Reed and Alvarado will join Che in Ohio this coming October for Olympic trials. If all are successful, Wisconsin would have up to four people on Team USA for the 2020 Olympics, which would be incredibly exciting. Nelson said that in the future there is talk of Golden Gloves becoming a qualifier in itself for spots on the Olympic team.
The excitement was palpable around Ford’s Gym and the Golden Gloves event in March. Several people associated with Bob Lynch Boxing and Ford’s Gym told Madison365 back then that this was representative of a major resurgence in local boxing.
After the team’s showing at nationals, Andrea Nelson says she still feels that way.
“I do (feel it was a big revitalization). I absolutely do and it was kind of a first in some different ways,” Nelson said. “I think it’s been since the early 1990s that Wisconsin brought home a championship belt and Briana will be the first woman to ever bring home a state Golden Gloves championship.”
Bob Lynch Boxing has held a number of events recently. Last November, Bob Lynch Boxing hosted a raucous event called White Collar Boxing in which amateurs and people with little fighting background were able to compete in bouts out in Cross Plains. Nelson says the event will happen again this year on November 2, and they are already in the process of taking applicants for it so that they can begin training after this summer.