Regional boxing knocks way into Joplin’s Memorial Hall

Matt Caufield

Memorial Hall and the Joplin Sports Authority is sure to bring a knock out.

The Authority will host the USA Boxing Heartland Regional at Memorial Hall. Semifinals will be held Feb. 28 and the finals will be held March 1. Eleven bouts an evening are scheduled.

“Joplin is a great venue,” said Ralph Friend, referee and chairman of the Heartland Regional. “The facility is great. The Joplin Sports Authority is fantastic to work with, especially Mike Greninger.

It’s a great event because of Joplin Sports Authority and what they do to promote.”

“This is the fourth year we have held USA Boxing,” said Greninger, the Authority’s executive director.

USA Boxing is the governing organization for boxing in the United States. Its headquarters are stationed out of Colorado Springs.

The Heartland Regional is comprised of amateur boxers from the Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma areas, Greninger said.

“Each state has had their own tournaments to determine who the champions are, and those champions fight in Joplin,” Friend said.

Friend said the boxers have to choose numbers to determine opponents on semifinals night.

“Those winners go to the national championships in Colorado,” he said. “There is only one step higher, and that is the Olympic team.”

Many of the boxers are competing for a position on the U.S. Olympic team and some will turn pro, Greninger said.

“The sport of boxing is strong in our community,” Greninger said. “This is a way for us to give back to that boxing community.

“We wanted to bring boxing to Joplin that could be an affordable event to entertain the family.”

“I think it’s a good deal to have new stuff to do in Joplin instead of the same old thing,” said John Collins, sophomore pre-pharmacy major.

Cost of admission both nights is $5 for adults and $3 for students ages 7-18 and senior citizens.

As long as the community supports boxing, the Authority will continue to bring boxing to Joplin, Greninger said.

Individuals with questions may contact the Authority at 625-4792.