Category: Sports Written by Smokin' Jim Frazier
CHAMPION—Golden Glove champion Johnny Spell Jr., left, talks to Courier reporter Smokin’ Jim Frazier.
Pittsburgh is turning into the mecca of boxing as evidenced by the standing room only crowd that packed the Monroeville’s Double Tree Hotel April 14.
The Golden Gloves Open Class Western PA championships never had it so good. And there was one among them who proved he was a “cut above the rest” —Johnny Spell, the Perry High School junior, upset the defending Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion Amonte Eberhardt, of the 3rd AVE WPAL, in the 141-pound division.
Spell, of North Side WPAL, has been blessed with speed, accuracy, unusually quick reflexes, sturdy defense and power. Spell out hustled Ederhardt in the first round and held on to win a very close decision.
“Only thing square in boxing is the ring,” said Jimmy “Mad dog” Cvetic, director of the Western PA Golden Gloves and the Western PA Police Athletic League. “It was a very close fight. Amonte gave away the first round and he battled back but didn’t get the decision. Johnny fought a good fight.”
Spell treats boxing more like a religion than a sport. He studies fighters from the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. It is this kind of dedication and passion for the sport that has gotten him this far. Spell is trained by his father, Johnny Spell Sr. who was a former great amateur and pro boxer. Spell has trained his son since he was 2 or 3 days old and will lead him to a national title.
“Not many 16 or 17-year old kids ever make it to Nationals,” said Spell, Sr. “My son was not a stranger to Amonte Eberhardt. We have been sparring against him for a couple years and I thought my son would beat him because for the first time we are just as big and strong as Amonte. My son now has grown man strength.”
Look for Spell Sr. to win Trainer of the Year honors.
Before every fight, boxers meticulously undergo the tale of the tape. They are carefully weighed and closely measured. But no there hasn’t been an instrument invented that can accurately gauge a man’s heart. If there was such a device, it would have found the “South-Side” Rocky Vinny Massalaro’s heart to be among the biggest.
Massalaro, a former Brashear High School football star, won the 165-pound state Golden Gloves championship in 2010 before undergoing shoulder surgery.
Massalaro, of Pittsburgh Boxing Rt 51, won a close decision against Caleb Parrish, of WAFA, to win the 165-pound division.
If you subscribe to the adage “bigger is better” when it comes to boxing, you have to be a fan of 6’5 Jamison Bridgett of 3rd AVE WPAL. Jamison, a former Penn Hills High School basketball star, won a lopsided decision against Tony Adams of Altoona in the open heavyweight division.
“I would love to help Jimmy Cvetic and Darren Dolby and work with Jamison Bridgett,” said Ghana native and professional trainer Sam Kotey. “Together we can develop this kid into a world champion.”
Other winners: 154 Cadet Lucas Adams, 90 JR Isiah Guy, 125 Sub Novice Loren Holmes, 119 JR Charlie Clousten, 110 INT Donovan Malovich, 165 Novice Kiante Irvings, 152 Open Devin Williams, 155 Sub Novice Dave Perez, 176 INT Hunter Matthews, 178 Sub Novice Zach Jupin, 132 Open Matt Conway, 178 Open JT “The Brick” Brackett and Super Heavyweight John Zemrose.
Historian David McCullough, in his book “Brave Companions,” wrote that “at times I’ve not known for certain whether I wanted to go ahead with a story until I have been where it happened.” McCullough said that to gain a better understanding of matter, a writer must understand the subject’s terrain.
Many ringside observers believe that Spell could follow in the footsteps of former national champions that include Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather.
“He is the most talented fighter that I have ever seen,” said Al Levine, of BPTV. “I can’t believe he is still in high school. His dad is a boxing guru and together they will make history.”
Don’t pop the champagne corks just yet—-the Pittsburgh champions still have a long way to go in their quest for a state and national title.
Fighters who advanced from the western Pennsylvania finals move on to the state finals, held April 27 in Reading. Executive director and founder of Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League, Cvetic said he had high hopes that the local fighters would succeed.
“Philadelphia has always been notoriously rough,” Cvetic said. “They get more fights than our kids. These guys get up into the hundreds of fights, where our kids have maybe 40 or 50. There’s no substitute for experience.”
The Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League has been working hard in the communities of Western Pennsylvania spreading their message “Always for the Kids” by promoting positive interactions between kids of all ages and local law enforcement officials.
Cvetic has been involved with amateur boxing in Pittsburgh for 40 years and has seen the sport’s positive impact on many young men.
“We’re building champions in life. That’s what we’re about,” said Cvetic. “I like amateur boxing a lot more than I do Pro boxing.”
Fighters who emerge from the state tournament will head west, to the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. National tournament runs from May 11 to 18.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:03
Category: Sports Written by Aubrey Bruce
I am freshly honored every year by the remembrance of the Brooklyn Dodgers #42 Jackie Robinson. But one thing I have to make perfectly clear. I hope and pray every year that African-Americans will have the positive impact on baseball as well as on their communities that they had during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. But alas it is not to be. The economic structure of today will not allow Black athletes to have a major social and economic influence on the sport. In November of 2011 the Connecticut Law Review published an article authored by Joanna Shepherd Bailey and George B. Shepherd saying that; “Major League Baseball has recently experienced two puzzling upheavals. First, the number of foreign players has grown to 28 percent of all players. At the same time the fraction of African-American players has declined, and is now at its lowest level in more than thirty years. The solution to the puzzle lies within the league itself. In 1965, MLB instituted two regulations that penalized domestic players: the draft and age minimums. Because the regulations applied only to U.S. players, teams shifted their scouting and development resources to foreign countries. Our empirical analysis, using a new data set, shows that the shift has caused growth in the numbers of foreign MLB players and a decline in U.S. players, especially harming disadvantaged groups such as African-Americans.
“The regulations violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in two ways. First, because they explicitly burden only U.S. players, they constitute intentional discrimination based on national origin. Second, because the regulations? impact falls disproportionately on African-Americans, the league has engaged in unlawful racial discrimination. The appropriate remedy is that the draft and age limits should be eliminated.”
H’mm, “Two regulations that penalized domestic players: the draft and age minimums.” The appalling high school dropout rates of African-American males almost is a sure indicator that most Black males don’t even meet the grade point average requirement in order to reach the minimum age to be considered for the MLB draft. However, the selection of players originating from the Caribbean enjoy regulations as well as a very politically conducive environment to assist MLB in retaining the services of athletes originating from these areas.
This process can only be described as “deregulatory” and collusive at best in regards to signing Black athletes. These covert tactics are relative to outsourcing American jobs overseas because less stringent regulations are in place and also to avoid any accusations of racial exclusion as defined by American Civil Rights laws because in many cases Latino players are regarded in many circles as players of color even if their immediate lineage does not still have shackle scars around their ankles. Initially the signing of Jackie Robinson signaled a shift in the economics in the sports world. But since then there has been a very obvious shift in the demographics within MLB itself. While we have spent the past six decades celebrating the crossing of the so-called color line, the boundary itself has been redrawn farther north of the Mason-Dixon Line while far below the southernmost point of the American border there is an active recruiting process in place. The report by Ms. Bailey and Mr. Shepherd goes on to say that, “Major League Baseball ended its official segregation in 1947, when Jackie Robinson shattered professional baseball‘s color barrier. A new era dawned in which, over the next two decades, African-American players streamed into the league, with many becoming the league‘s best players. However, in the late 1970s, MLB began to experience two fundamental shifts that have changed the face of baseball. First, although MLB teams hired only a handful of foreign players in the late 1940s, they now import almost half of their players from other countries: 46 percent of current major and minor league professional baseball players, mostly Latinos, in 2010 were born outside the United States. Second, in 2010, 28 percent of major league players were from Latin America. Third, the fraction of foreign players in minor league baseball is even higher; 48 percent of minor league players are from outside the United States. Necessarily, at the same time, the number of U.S.-born players has declined equivalently. In a stunning reversal of the trend that Jackie Robinson started, professional baseball has begun to re-segregate. The fraction of African-American players—defined as a player who is Black and was born in the United States—began to decline, and is now at its lowest point in more than thirty years, more than 50 percent lower than at its peak. Together, the two trends mean that players from Latin American have replaced African-Americans. In the 1960s, teams might have hired African-American players such as Willie Mays. Now, they are more likely to hire Latin players such as Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez.” Hey there are some key phrases that I don’t want you to miss boys and girls. “Major League Baseball ended its official segregation in 1947.” Official segregation means that racial bias is not as overt and obvious as it was in the past but trust me it is still there. But answer this question; if you were a scout would you be ready, willing and able to venture into the modern day war zones to recruit and evaluate athletes that might not even make it to draft day? We have to fulfill the promise of excellence and be obligated to ourselves before we can realistically expect any other segment of society to look out for us. Oh about the game. Pirates RHP James McDonald was blasted for seven runs in the 2nd inning before he was mercifully taken out of the game. The Pirates tried valiantly to come back but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 10-6. So much for the mojo of Jackie Robinson working for the Pirates PNC Park at least for this day anyway.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:01
Category: Sports Written by Associated Press
FACING SANCTIONSS--In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg stands with student assistant Keith Moore, right, before an NCAA college basketball game against Northern Arizona in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
by Ryan J. Foley
When Iowa State brought Keith Moore back as a student assistant in 2010, the university was hoping for another high-profile success in a program that helps former athletes return to finish their degrees.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 16:44
Category: Sports Written by Associated Press
BOSTON (AP)—Everybody in uniform at the Tampa Bay Rays game Monday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park wore the number “42” as Major League Baseball celebrated its fifth annual Jackie Robinson Day.
Fans will see more of that number on jerseys before the next couple of days are out. All the teams in action—there were eight night games on the schedule, in addition to the Rays-Red Sox day game—were asked to wear Robinson’s number on the 66th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Teams that didn’t play on Monday planned to pay tribute Tuesday.
The anniversary is drawing special attention this year with the release of the film “42” about Robinson, which went into wide release over the weekend.
“We had a screening down in spring training,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It was open to all of our personnel.”
More than 100 players and other club employees watched the film at a theater in Port Charlotte, Fla., the Rays’ spring training site, “and I think a lot of guys walked away with a greater appreciation” of Robinson's contribution,” Maddon said.
Maddon said Robinson’s debut on April 15, 1947, helped lead to the broader civil rights movement.
“I still don’t think people understand how much it plays into the Martin Luther King situation,” he said. “The revolution that occurred at that particular moment, it mattered. That had to happen first to set that whole thing up.
“So when you're talking about Jackie Robinson, I don't think people realize the significance and really courage that went behind that, and in the movie it points that out—the courage to not fight back, to be able to win over that particular mind set to be able to make all of this work.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell said baseball “reflects society in so many ways, whether it’s the color barriers being broken down. In our clubhouse you've got six or seven countries coming together. As a group of 25, you look to not only co-exist, but (recognize) the individuality of everyone in there.
“Certainly, the Robinson family and, certainly, Jackie himself may be one of the most significant situations in our country’s history, breaking down segregation to the point of inclusion and I think that happens in the game today.”
The movie “42” earned an estimated $27.3 million over the weekend, according to Warner Brothers, its distributor.
The subject's popularity extends to the sale of licensed sports merchandise. Fanatics.com, a large online retailer of those items, said sales of Jackie Robinson gear on its site since the season began increased by more than 1,000 percent over the same time period last year.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 09:58
Category: Sports Written by Associated Press
BREAKING THE BARRIER--In this April 15, 1947 file photo, from left, Brooklyn Dodgers baseball players John Jorgensen, Pee Wee Reese, Ed Stanky and Jackie Robinson pose at Ebbets Field in New York. (AP Photo, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has created a task force that will study how to increase diversity in the game, especially among Black players.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 April 2013 15:32
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