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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Residents remember Golden Gloves in Wabash Valley

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Part 1 of 3

Brazil resident Cordell Hull and his brother, the late Walter Hull, together, won six championships and two runner-up awards in the Golden Glove Boxing Tournaments in the Wabash Valley from 1949 to 1953.

The Golden Glove tournament originated in 1923, in Chicago, by Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune. Ward put together the amateur boxing tournament to assist young boxers and promote amateur competition.

Each weight division winner received a small golden glove as an award which gave the tournament its name. According to the Internet website http://www.goldenglovesofamerica.com/ggh..., the tournament was well received but boxing became illegal in Illinois in 1924.

It was again made legal in the state in 1927. Speculation was that the turn around came about due to the Illinois Legislature wanting the second Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney fight to be held in Chicago.

About that same time, the New York Daily News introduced the Golden Glove Tournament in New York City. Their early tournaments were for local boys only but soon requests to enter were received from other communities.

The idea spread so quickly that territorial allotments or franchises had to be made in order to limit the number of tournaments. The champions representing New York and Chicago would meet annually to decide a National Golden Glove Champion.

In the Wabash Valley the Terre Haute Tribune Star, with the help of their sports writer, Bob Nesbit, held the franchise for the Golden Glove Tournaments. Many towns within a 50-mile radius of Terre Haute joined in on the boxing popularity, including Brazil.

The Eagle Lodge at 122 E. National Ave. promoted matches locally. Boxing clubs were formed in many small communities including Fontanet, Rockville, Sullivan, Linton, Jasonville, Bicknell, Hymera, Montezuma and Clinton.

The three main boxing clubs in the Wabash Valley were the Terre Haute Boys Club, the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute and the Brazil Boys Club sponsored by the Eagles.

Head trainer for the Eagles Club was Johnny Willman who was an ex-pro boxer. He was assisted by Harry Jones, Ansil Harpold, Clarence Monce, Buck Varvell and others.

The second Golden Glove Tournament was held in 1928 sponsored by the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News. Their respective champions met in New York for the first "National Tournament of Champions".

Over the years, several Brazil boys qualified to fight in the Chicago Tournament of Champions. None qualified for the New York National trip, but they all gained respect, valuable experience, pride and a lot of fun from the challenge.

Tomorrow: Local boys embraced the sport of boxing.

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