Boxers bounced, shadowed, and paced inside the White Salmon Elks Lodge as it filled to capacity Saturday evening for the second annual Springfest Invitational Boxing exhibition. The crowd settled quickly, lights dimmed around the ropes, and the first of 18 US Amateur Boxing Federation sanctioned bouts began promptly at 6 p.m.
Three hours and 14 bouts later, Hood River's lone representative, Frank Velasquez (18, 157 pounds) entered the ring for what would prove to be one of most intense bouts of the night. Hood River fans cheered loud and exploded for Velasquez as he exchanged punches with Shamrock boxer Brenton Gilker (20, 155 pounds). The battle was fierce, neither gave way, and after the third and final round both boxers had blood smeared across their exhausted faces.
Centered in the ring and gasping for air, the two congratulated each other as they awaited the judgment: "The winner, by unanimous decision …" said the announcer, "Frank Velasquez." And the crowd goes wild…
"I wasn't prepared for that," Velasquez said after his victory. "I didn't know for sure until today that I would have a bout. It was fun and I feel like I did great. I have to thank all my friends and family for being here because their cheering was the best feeling of the night. This was actually my first bout … I'm hooked now."
Velasquez trains with the Bent Nail Boxing in Bingen. Bent Nail is currently the only registered boxing gym in the Columbia Gorge between Tri-Cities and Portland. Founder and coach Ricky Marx sponsored and organized Springfest and is working hard to promote boxing in the area. Along with Velasquez, boxers Ronnie Roth and Cody Brady represented Bent Nail Boxing in the event.
"Boxing is getting bigger here," Marx said. "We already need to find a bigger venue for the next event … Saturday went great. Every bout was good, and all the boxers did a great job. It takes a lot of time and effort to put these things together so I have to thank all the clubs, officials, and boxers that made it possible. Everyone did an excellent job."
Up next for local boxing is the Huck Fest in Bingen this September. Marx will organize another US amateur invitational for the festival. Anyone interested in joining Bent Nail Boxing is encouraged to call Coach Marx personally for information: (541) 490- 0561. "Bring it on," said Marx.