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Legendary boxer Micky Ward fought his amateur career in Lowell. (Courtesy of the Associated Press)
Since 1945, the New England Golden Gloves amateur boxing competition has been held in the city of Lowell. Boxing is not the sport it once was in this country, but it still gets a good amount of attention and this gives Lowell a sports spotlight for the region each year.
New England Golden Gloves is a franchise branch of the National Golden Gloves, and even though it may not have huge national recognition, some of the greatest names boxing has ever seen have come through the NE Golden Gloves. Men like Rocky Marciano, Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard have all fought in the Golden Gloves in Lowell at some point early on in their career.
Lowell is one of the biggest cities in Massachusetts, but it does not have quite the sports resume that some of the other big cities in the state have. This boxing championship allows Lowell to call something their own in the sports world. Yes, the Spinners also play in town, but they are a minor league team and are not what most baseball fans are going to go out of their way to see.
The Golden Gloves is different. This is the biggest amateur boxing event one will find in the entire region, and arguably the entire country. It is really something that is able to put Lowell on the map.
It may not be the talk of the town for the people who live here, but all boxing fans in and around the area are aware of what is happening in January and February when the tournament is taking place.
New England Golden Gloves was really drawn into the national spotlight recently when the 2010 film “The Fighter,” starring Mark Wahlberg, was released. The movie was based on boxer and Lowell native Micky Ward, who fought his amateur career in the New England Golden Gloves right here in Lowell.
He then went on to fight for the IBF Light Welterweight title in 1997 and eventually won the WBU Light Welterweight title in 2000.
He was played by Wahlberg in the movie which brought great attention to the subject with such a big name actor playing the role. Ward was a three-time NE Golden Gloves champion and arguably the best athlete to come out of the city of Lowell.
Even if one is not familiar with the Golden Gloves, the competition has a great history and impact on the city of Lowell.
The tournament takes place at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium and has since the tournament came to the city in 1945. There are larger and nicer venues in the city of Lowell today, but continuing to have the tournament take place in the auditorium gives it the classic feel that the entire sport of boxing seems to carry.
It also is a good representation of the city as a tough, hard-working one that fits the type of sport that boxing seems to be. The national champion of a weight class has come out of Lowell 15 times in the tournament’s history.
Boxing may not be as popular as it once was, but it is still just as exciting. The tournament is worth checking out when January comes around.