Hundreds of boxers will descend on Kansas City this week for the USA Boxing Youth and Elite National Championships. The six-day event at KCI Expo Center will also feature a Junior Open for 14- to 15-year-old boxers.
The Elite competition (for ages 18-40) is the main national championship event for amateur boxers, and will serve as the first real chance at scouting the talent pool for the next Olympic cycle. Winners in each weight class go on to represent the United States at international competitions in 2017.
In the women’s division, a couple of former Olympians will be competing. Marlen Esparza, who won a bronze medal as a flyweight in the 2012 London Games, will attempt to defend her 2015 national championship.
Lightweight Mikaela Mayer will also compete; she is a three-time national champion and was a member of this year’s Olympic squad, but did not medal.
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On the men’s side, there could be some newer faces. All six members of this year’s Olympic team announced their intentions to go pro, and cannot compete at the National Championships. That includes Wichita native Nico Hernandez, who won a bronze medal as a light flyweight this summer in Rio de Janeiro and soon after announced he would turn professional.
One familiar face in this week’s competition will be local product Cam F. Awesome, a Lenexa native. The two-time Olympic Trials champion failed to qualify for the Olympics in 2016 after failing to secure an international qualifying win. This week, though, Awesome will be vying for his fifth national championship.
There are 10 weight classes each for males and females in the Elite division. The men’s competition will feature bouts of three three-minute rounds, while the women fight in four two-minute rounds.
The competition draw will be Monday, when brackets and bouts will be determined. Admission Monday through Friday is free, while tickets for championship bouts Saturday night will range from $15 to $25.
USA Boxing Championships
Where: KCI Expo Center
Admission: Free on Monday-Friday. Costs for Saturday’s bouts range from $15-$25.