Austin Boxers Showcase Skills at Golden Gloves

Austin’s Regional Golden Gloves tournament was a success, with first-timers and those about to turn pro, looking equally excited to be in the ring.

Austin Boxers Showcase Skills at Golden Gloves.

photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kreutz

Austin’s Regional Golden Gloves tournament was a success, with first-timers and those about to turn pro, looking equally excited to be in the ring. Though the tournament coincided with icy weather, crowds could not be kept away. 

Winners of bouts on opening night (Tuesday, Jan. 28) met up again on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday. In some cases, boxers fought two or three nights in a row. One—Steven Guedea—fought all four nights, working his way to the championship in the Sub-Novice / 165-pound division. 

Art Cardenas, owner and head trainer of the Fit Pit, is Austin’s Golden Gloves organizer. “I think this year’s event was one of the best we’ve had,” he told me. “We raised more money for charity, the caliber of the boxing was high, and it ran as smoothly as something like this can run.”

Art Cardenas photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kreutz

Proceeds from the Golden Gloves go to scholarship funds—in this case, Cardenas, a former law enforcement officer, is distributing some of the proceeds to the Travis County Sheriffs’ Law Enforcement Association scholarship fund, as well as to scholarship funds through the Golden Gloves, the Boy Scouts of America, and some local gyms with youth programs.

Cardenas brought the Golden Gloves back to Austin five years ago. He was coaching boxers and had to take them to other cities in Texas to fight, which is cumbersome, with week-long tournaments and a group of amateur fighters who are nervous, trying to stay on weight, and sometimes low on funds. Cardenas worked for two years to get the right paperwork and permissions and brought the Golden Gloves back to the capital. 

 “I thought it was important,” Cardenas said. “It’s successful, good crowds, good community building for the youth—a lot of pride goes into representing your gym. It gives our youth an opportunity to show their athleticism, commitment, heart.” 

Many of the competitors were entering the ring for the first time. Guedea (Fit Pit), who won his division, had never done more than spar at his gym. For being the only boxer to fight all four nights and doing a fantastic job of it, Guedea was awarded the first-ever AJ Cardenas Courage Award by the USA Boxing officials. That award is named for Cardenas’s son Arthur, who passed away in 2013.

Lauren Ellis and her coach Sifu Forrest Caudill photo by Amy Winters

Lauren Ellis (Austin Impact Jeet Kune Do) lost to Morgan Molidor (Austin Boxing Babes), but she was glad she fought. “I expected it to be intense,” she said, “and it was still more intense than I expected. She was fast.” Ellis had to change up her training to prepare for the Golden Gloves, dispense with the kicks and spinning back fists of Jeet Kune Do, and focus on boxing. She has found ways to value what she learned in training and competing, and I hope she fights again.

Others, like Santino Rivera (Fit Pit), might have been competing at the amateur level for the last time. Rivera, who just turned 21, won the Open division at the tournament and is going on to the state Golden Gloves. When I saw him in his first round on Thursday night, I thought he was left-handed. In the second round, he was right-handed. 

I talked to Rivera after his fight when he was buoyant from the adrenaline. He’s right-handed, but he likes to switch up to throw his opponent off balance. He’s been boxing for a decade, since he was 11 and his mom took him to a gym to keep him out of trouble. He hopes to go pro in the near future. 

“What do you want people to know about you right now?” I asked Rivera. 

“I’m a good boxer!” he said, as if he was certain there could be no other answer. It seemed like a good answer to me. 

At the end of the tournament, Rivera received the award for outstanding boxer.

Richard Lord’s Gym won the team trophy through a combination of number of boxers in the tournament, number of champions, and other criteria.

Santino Rivera getting his hands wrapped (photo by Maria Lopez)

Official Austin Regional Golden Gloves website:

Austin Regional Golden Gloves Facebook page:

Gyms that brought boxers (compiled from the bout sheets for each day):


Austin Boxing Babes,

Austin Impact Jeet Kune Do,

Austin Kickboxing Academy,

Austin Police Activities League (PAL)

Azteca Pride 

Boxing Kings,

Bruce’s KO Boxing,

Fight Factory,

Fit Pit,

Perazim Boxing,

Richard Lord’s Gym,

Step in the Ring,

Wolfe Pack


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