SALT LAKE CITY — Jason Galarza knows Erickson Lubin is talented.
Galarza has known since he first saw Lubin sparring at age 10. And while that talent certainly helped the 17-year-old Florida teen earn the national Golden Gloves championship at 152 pounds Saturday night, his coach says it isn’t the most important aspect of his success.
“The kid’s confidence level is what makes him so good,” said Galarza after Lubin defeated Ardreal Holmes Jr. for his first Golden Gloves national championship. “He believes that he will lose to no one.”
And he has reason to feel that way.
In just a few years, he’s amassed an impressive resume. According to Galarza, Lubin won the Junior Olympic tournament two years in a row, which made him the only Florida fighter to earn back-to-back titles. The day after Lubin turned 17, he went to a Police Athletic League tournament where he competed in a men’s open division.
“He ended up winning that and was named outstanding boxer,” Galarza said. “Then in February, we went to the Dominican Republic and he defeated a Cuban fighter, who’d just won the bronze medal in the (2012) Olympics.”
Several things made Lubin’s bid for his first Golden Gloves national title more difficult. First, he normally fights at 141 pounds. That’s the weight at which he’s won all his other championships.
“He said, ‘Coach, let’s try 152 pounds,'” Galarza said. “He wanted to eat. That’s what it was about.”
He also lives an hour and 20 minutes from his coach, which makes training during the week impossible.
“I pick him up Friday afternoon, and he stays with me on the weekend so we can train,” Galarza said. “We train in a 400-square-foot garage.”
The coach said he’s already fielding offers from people hoping he’ll turn pro, and Galarza said that’s without training every day. Still, he believes there might be more opportunities for Lubin in the amateur ranks.
“I would prefer him to go to the Olympics,” said the coach as he watched Lubin move through required television interviews. “He’s young. And I promised his parents, education comes first. We’ll get him graduated from high school, and then we’ll see where it takes us.”
Lubin said he was thrilled to win the title and looks forward to whatever challenges boxing offers him next. He said beating a bronze medalist did make him wonder what he might do in the Olympic games.
“It depends,” he said of his next move. “I’ll just see what I can do, and talk to my coach and decide. Once you go to the Olympics, you do get more offers. If it comes at me before the Olympics, I’ll take it. I’m happy I won this title.”
“I learned how to be a man,” he said of the influence Galarza has had on him. “I learned how to cooperate, discipline, everything. He’s just been a great trainer. He’s really been an inspiration in my life, and I will never leave him.”
Texas won the team title, with Kansas City coming in second and Knoxville coming in third. The Golden Boy Award went to Gary Antonio Russell, who won the championship at 123 pounds.
Russell became the third of his seven brothers to win a national Golden Gloves championship. It’s a feat only accomplished two other times — by the O’Shea family in the late 1950s and by the Ayalas in the 1970s.
National Golden Glove championships
108-pounds: Nico Hernandez, Kansas-Oklahoma def. Tyrone Arzeno, Pennsylvania
114-pounds: Stephen Fulton Jr., Pennsylvania def. Christian Williams, Chicago
123-pounds: Gary Antonio Russell, Washington D.C., def. Ja’Rico O’Quinn, Detroit
132-pounds: Lamont Roach Jr. def. Maliek Montgomery, Knoxville
141-pounds: Julian Rodriguez, New Jersey def. Eddie Ramirez, Chicago
152-pounds: Erickson Lubin, Florida def. Ardreal Holmes, Jr., Michigan
165-pounds: Marquis Moore, Colorado-New Mexico def. Kyronne Davis, Pennsylvania
178-pounds: Steven Nelson, Colorado-New Mexico def. Randy Foster, Knoxville
201-pounds: Earl Newman, New York Metro def. Joshua Temple, St. Louis
201-plus pounds: Cam F. Awesome, Kansas City def. Jermaine Franklin, Michigan
Twitter: adonsports Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company