End of an Era

An era is defined as a long and distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic, or a system of chronology dating from a particular noteworthy event. The annual boxing season we’ve held at Grandma’s Sports Garden has been a long standing local attraction in Duluth. The season of events has gone long enough to have earned itself the distinction of being an ͞”Era”. Unfortunately, the era has come to an end and the shows will move on. Grandma’s Sports Garden changed to become more of a restaurant ,and less of a venue for events. The change is bitter sweet for Jungle Boy Boxing Gym. On one hand we are happy for the years together and on the other hand sad that we will be parting ways.

Let’s look back at the history and some of the epic nights our seasons.

The Golden Gloves at the Garden series was started back in 2008 by Chuck Horton (Horton’s Gym) and spanned all the way through 2015. Grandma’s Corporation needed an attraction to keep their doors open and Chuck Horton wanted to dive back into amateur boxing. The partnership with boxing at the Garden spanned over 7 years and changed into a Jungle Boy Boxing Gym/Grandma’s Sports Garden partnership to close the era.  There have been many great moments in the ring at these events and hundreds of boxers have enjoyed the cheers and screams of support from passionate boxing fans that made up the crowd.

Most recently, the series have been on the shoulders of up and coming talent in Jungle Boy Boxing Gym; Danny Huffman, Jesse Walters, Evan Wrazidlo, Cole Klinzing, Nick Malec, Aidan Guthrie, and more. These boxers have stepped up to the plate and given some great fights. The future looks bright for them in boxing and very soon they will start bringing home amateur boxing championship accolades. Our boxers are being groomed to live like champions, to become champions. With time, commitment, and hard work Jungle Boy Boxing Gym will have a strong team of national caliber boxers. The gym is a healthy place to train and every day the boxers are pushed to their limits.  We will announce the 2016 season of shows soon. We already have secured dates and venues for the season. In January, we will make this announcement.

Now for some history and good times.

The series stared as a Thursday night boxing show with 10 fights a year. In the early days Chuck Horton made sure the seats were filled with boxing fans and Gary Eyer helped with preparing the amateur boxers at Horton’s gym and matching fights. There were some hurtles to get over, but the show survived and thrived into a major attraction.  Professional Boxing even took place at the Garden. Zach Walters, Andy Kolle, Matt Vanda, and more boxed at the Garden. In fact, every professional boxer in Duluth up till 2015 has boxed at The Sports Garden. This is a pretty remarkable accomplishment for such a small venue!

Starting in 2011 the boxing series was taken over by Jungle Boy Boxing Gym and Zach Walters. Since then the shows have taken several forms. Thursday Night Fights changed to Friday Night Fights at the Garden. Getting Fridays allowed Zach Walters to bring in different gyms to make great matches and also opened the door for Professional boxing. Jungle Boy Boxing held several Pro/Am Shows (professional boxers and amateur boxers boxing on the same card) over two years, 2013-2014. On these shows we held State Title defenses and 10-round boxing attractions. The most memorable of these had to be Al Sands’ title defense against Harley Kilfian. The fight was Al Sands’ mandatory defense of his title and the fight resulted in an epic brawl of wills. Sands started quickly and dumped Kilfian on the canvas several times, but every time Kilfian went down he got back up and dished back hoards of punches with crushing power. Al Sands took some vicious shots during the retaliation and got dropped by a freight train of an uppercut in one of the later rounds. Sands got up, answered the count, and showed champion heart by getting right back to work. The next round Sands unleashed a vicious combination that sent Kilfian reeling backward to the ropes. The ref jumped in and stopped the fight. He had seen enough and the fight was called. Al Sands retained his title and every boxing fan in attendance witnessed what could easily be their most memorable fight. Both boxers earned each other’s respect.

The back bone of the series has to be the Amateur boxers; every boxer that put on gloves and stepped in the ring. From beginners to experienced veteran amateur boxers, these boxers were the stars of the shows. Everyone gave the boxing fans consistent action packed excitement to watch. Local boxing supporters came to expect these full out fistic brawls at The Sports Garden. We had celebrity boxing there with Nick LaFave from Fox 21 taking on Trever Roy from Northland News Center. What a crazy night that was! Both swung away till the final bell and earned each other’s respect.  We had a unique grudge match as well. Chuck Horton had an eye for making something big. One night after a boxing match at the garden a fight was about to break out on the sidewalk in front of Grandma’s Sports Garden. Chuck broke it up and suggested the two settle it in the ring like gentlemen. Both took Chuck up on the idea, trained for a month, and got in the ring to settle their differences in the ring. It was one of the most insane crowds ever held during the Thursday Night Fights series. One of the boxers continued on and became quite a good boxer. Kudos to both for making an incredible event!

There are countless great memories from our time at the Garden, and more soon to be made in our new venues.