Lubbock welcomes thousands of boxers for USA Boxing National Junior Olympics Tournament

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 7:12 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Boxers from across the nation are in Lubbock this week for the 51st Annual USA Junior Olympics Boxing Tournament. Mike McAtee, the Executive Director of USA Boxing, shared how this sport impacts young men and women.

“You are putting the work in when you climb between those ropes,” McAtee says.

Boxers from 48 states, ranging from 8 to 38 years old, all hope to put their months of training on display in the ring.

“The boxing here is so good, what we tell people is future Olympians will be here,” McAtee says. “Future pro world champions will be here.”

McAtee is the Executive Director for USA Boxing and a former competitor himself. For many young fighters, he says competitions like this keep them from sparring outside of the ropes.

“A lot of our boxers come from tough neighborhoods, and what we do is, we are helping them make good choices on a Friday night instead of hanging out on the street corner and maybe making a bad choice,” McAtee says. “They are motivated to get in the gym, to perform in front of a live audience; you are going to see them competing their little hearts out.”

For some boxers, putting on those gloves was not a choice.

11-year-old boxer Vallen Williams says, “Why do I box? I like the sport. My mom put me in it because I got abused, but I started liking the sport.”

Although each boxer comes from a different background with their own struggles, McAtee says when they step in that ring they are one and the same.

“Everybody feels pain and everybody bleeds red in a boxing gym. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin or how much money you have, we are a great equalizer. Come down to a boxing gym exercise, get that self-confidence, the empowerment of our sport is huge,” said McAtee.

The tournament is being hosted at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center all week. The championships are slated for Saturday.