Here's a recap of Utah's experience at the national Golden Gloves. First, I asked Jon Bryant, of Lights Out gym (above at left), the Rocky Mountain 152-pound champ, to share his experiences, in his own words:
Bryant: My national Golden Gloves experience was crazy! Our flight got canceled to Louisiana from Dallas. So we were stuck at the airport for six hours and we all decided to take a three SUVs and drive the seven hours all the way to Lafayette, Louisiana.
My first morning was eye-opening and kind of overwhelming. As I went to go get breakfast there were hundreds of fighters in one hallway. Never have I seen so many fighters in one place, especially good top fighters. We got served powdered eggs, grits, sausage, bacon, and rolls.
Then on May 2 I had to weigh in. I was super tall and lanky compared to the rest of the 152 division. But there was two that were even taller than I. By this time I was getting nervous to fight. But I got a pass the weigh-in day.
The most positive things about the national Golden Gloves experience would probably have to be getting to see top competition and seeing what I have to be at next year. I feel like I'm on their level I just have to get to the comfortable level in the ring because I know I can stop these guys,
Another positive was getting to know everyone on the Rocky Mountain team. At first everyone kind of kept to themselves but by the second day everyone was talking and having fun acting like a team etc. I've learned a lot from this experience, I need to throw a lot more and just be me in the ring. Because if I'm comfortable and I'm myself, nobody at the national tournament can stop me. I also have to have more confidence in my ability to box because I have so many advantages over everyone that was there and I didn't use them.
But hand-in-hand it was an amazing experience and I will make it next year and I'll get even farther into the tournament or perhaps come back as your 2018 Rocky Mountain Golden Glove Champion.
Thanks Jon, we appreciate hearing a personal and unique perspective of competing at that level.
I chatted with Julian Stevens, of Lights Out, who was there with Jon and Jose Torres, another local competitor, for an update on the week. From Stevens:
-- Diego Alvarez, of Ogden, last year's champ, lost a close decision to the New England rep; Gabriel Chairez defeated Michigan's rep then lost to Cincinnati's rep; Bryant lost to the New York rep; Halatoa Piutau lost to the Texas rep; Torres was defeated by the Chicago rep; and Emilio "Milo" Gutierrez lost to Buffalo rep.
As I mentioned yesterday, John Valentine, who is competing at Sand Hollow in the South Valley Slam on May 13, just competed in the Las Vegas International IBJJF Open Jiu Jitsu Championships. He took first in his division. I asked John (see above on top at podium) to share his experiences at the event. These are his words:
The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is a company that hosts several of the biggest Brazilian jiu-jitsu(BJJ) tournaments in the world, including the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Nogi World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship and European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship. The federation was created by Carlos Gracie, Jr.
Its tournament, with one of the toughest fields, leads up to the world championships. It's called the Las Vegas Open International IBJJF Jiu Jitsu Championships. Competitors included the likes of Andre Galvao, Lucas Barbosa, Ary Farias, Paul Miyao, Vinny Magalhes, Carlos Farias, Drysdale champions Antonio Lopez, Arin Adjamian and Sylvio Behring, standout champion, and Coach Peter Iacavazzi.
The event host not only opportunities to compete in your weight class but also the absolute division where there are no weight limits. For example, someone 125 pounds could fight someone in the ultra heavy weight at 260 pounds. The event makes for exciting spectacles for the fans.
With the world championship looming in just a few months this tournament at used as a tuneup for many of the fighters as they look to pursue their dream of a world championship. The tournament hosted many local Utah fighters and those associated with the sport here locally.
(As John told me, he decided to take the challenge, less than two weeks before fight time at South Valley Slam, and compete. He entered a division two weights higher than is usual weight, the middleweights, or 180-plus pounds. His competitors extended to Brazil.)
Why that weight? "Partially for the challenge to see if I could compete at that level and against opponents much larger like the one I'll face at South Valley Slam, who is younger and will hold a 7 inch reach advantage and likely be 20 to 30 pounds heavier," Valentine said.
(To his credit, John won his division, taking the gold medal, defeating all in his bracket and not having a point scored against him. It's an impressive accomplishment for a 46-year-old competitor. He's seen below with his hand raised.)
As for the future, after the MMA fight, "I'll switch gears in preparation for the world championships and then a submission-only super fight that will take place in Las Vegas for charity," John said, adding that Amy Campo from Edward Mori team also participated. He also thanked Team Drysdale, saying, "I attribute my success to training with one of the best teams in the country under world champion Robert Drysdale."
Congratulations Jon, and good luck in the world championships. We also wish John and his opponent, Michael Dillard, best of luck on May 13 in Sand Hollow.
On this multiple week of Utah Fight Blog, we'll have one more post Saturday, talking a bit more about local boxing and MMA cards in June. Don't forget to read Thursday's blog post.