For the USF Boxing Team, last weekend was the culmination of blood, sweat, tears and a long year that started well before the Hilltop Cup X in October. Six boxers representing USF traveled to Miami, Florida for the Second Annual United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association (USIBA) Championships, which took place from April 3-5, and two returned as national champions. Akira Chin and Ian Peterson were both crowned individual champions, and altogether the fighters’ efforts demonstrated the strength of USF’s boxing program, as well as its head coach, Angelo Merino.
Chin, a freshman at Berkeley City College who was recruited to fight for USF, won the championship in the men’s 152-pound novice division, while Peterson, who is a sophomore at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif. took the title in the men’s 165-pound novice final. Senior Barry Morgan (165 pounds) and junior Andrew Siongco (125 pounds), both USF students, impressed throughout the tournament but lost in their final bouts.
Chin captured the title in his bout against Tony Chao of Syracuse University. The bout was hard fought throughout, as it was toe-to-toe action from the second round onward. The strong Chao delivered powerful blows to Chin, but Chin’s will to win pushed him through the heavy shots. After taking a standing eight count (an instance where the referee stops the fighting and counts to eight) in the third round, Chin answered back with power hooks and stinging right hands, helping him win over the judges.
“When they announced that I won I felt very relieved and happy,” Chin said. “I was emotional because I wanted to represent for a friend and mentor of mine named James Buggs, a former pro fighter and trainer from Oakland who passed away a couple weeks ago.”
Peterson, a San Ramon, Calif. native, beat Virginia Military Institute’s Austin Chien to win the championship in his division. It was a battle from the beginning, but Peterson was able to get the best of Chien and earn an individual title.
“USF had an outstanding performance,” said Luke Runion, executive director of USIBA. “Akira Chin and Ian Peterson both had the crowd at their feet [with] some of the most exciting bouts of the tournament, each winning hard fought victories.”
Head Coach Angelo Merino also led a couple of boxers from different programs on the path towards a national title. Brandon Knox (125 pounds), representing East Carolina University, bested DK Yun of Georgetown University in the Men’s open division, and San Francisco State junior Dillon Hanson (178 pounds) defeated Bennett Chidoro from Florida A&M.
As for the other USF boxers, Morgan knocked out his opponent in the first round of competition to advance to the semi-finals. He moved onto the finals, but lost to Mark Steele from University of Florida, who fought in front of his home crowd. Siongco also gave his best effort, advancing to the finals but losing to Yazan El Baba from the University of Michigan. Another USF student, sophomore John-Felix Gubuan, exited the tournament in the semi-finals.
University of Michigan’s men’s team took home the team title, and the United States Military Academy at West Point women’s team defended their 2013 national title and captured the repeat in 2014.
“In the end, participants went home gaining a priceless experience, team spirit, great respect and lifetime friendships beyond the restraints of a rope held by each corner, medals or belts on a shelf,” Merino said.
This was the second year that the USF Boxing Club participated in the USIBA National Championships. Last year’s tournament was hosted by USF, and was the first national tournament since USIBA was installed as a boxing association. In the future, USIBA looks to continue to help both collegiate men and women to participate in the sport of boxing and compete at a national level.
“We are preparing for future growth, as we had several new schools participate, all with commitments to bring more boxers next year,” Runion said.
Source: Alfonzo Garcia, SF Foghorn