When Jenah Duea realized she needed a career change, she moved to Bend from New York City last year and, as she puts it, “went from working on Wall Street to building walls.”
She left behind the center of the financial world to live with her brother in Central Oregon and work on stone masonry.
One thing she did not want to leave behind was boxing. A fighter in New York for seven years, Duea worried she might not find a boxing gym in Bend — that is, until she hooked up with the Deschutes County Rocks Boxing Club.
“For me to move to a relatively small town and have a boxing community is really great,” Duea, 27, said last week at the club's new training venue in northeast Bend. “I thought when I moved here I might have to give up boxing.”
Not so. In fact, Duea is one of seven fighters from the Deschutes County Rocks scheduled to box this Friday and Saturday night in the Oregon State Golden Gloves tournament at Bend's Midtown Ballroom.
The Golden Gloves is the most prestigious USA Boxing-sanctioned amateur event in the state, according to Richard Miller, coach of the Rocks, who are hosting the tournament for the first time in the team's six years.
But this will not be the first time the Oregon State Golden Gloves competition has been staged in Central Oregon. Last year, the Madras-based Central Oregon Golden Gloves Academy hosted the tournament in Redmond.
That event was marred by the serious head injury suffered by one of the fighters, Jovany Medina, of Madras. Medina is still recovering from his injury, but he can walk and talk and he is even back at work for a few hours a day at Central Oregon Seeds Inc. Read more about Medina's recovery in Saturday's Bulletin.
“We don't even talk about it, it was such a freak thing,” Miller said last week of Medina's injury.
Miller points to the use of protective headgear and gloves designed to absorb impact as examples that keep Olympic-style amateur boxing — such as Golden Gloves — a relatively safe sport.
Elimination bouts will be held on Friday night and finals on Saturday night. Miller said he expects about 15 bouts each night, featuring fighters from Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho.
The highest-placing boxers from Oregon this weekend advance to the Golden Gloves Regional Tournament in Las Vegas, March 20-21. Winners in Las Vegas qualify for the Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions, scheduled for Little Rock, Ark., in early May.
USA Boxing men's bouts are scheduled for three rounds of three minutes each. Women's bouts consist of four two-minute rounds. Fights are scored on a point system administered by judges, and boxers earn points for punches landed.
“What always keeps me going (in boxing) is the mental and physical challenge,” Duea said.
David Robles, of Bend, is looking to return to the Golden Gloves Regional Tournament, this time in a much lighter weight class. After shedding nearly 50 pounds through a change in diet and an increase in exercise, the 20-year-old is fighting in the 165-pound weight class.
“I have wind, and I feel good ... stronger and faster,” said Robles, preparing for a workout at the training venue last week. “(Boxing) has taught me work ethic and kept me on the straight and narrow. Everything I do is for boxing.
“It's really important to have (state Golden Gloves) here in Bend. Having the crowd on your side is a huge advantage.”
Other boxers from Bend scheduled to fight this weekend include heavyweight Jerry Zapata, Spencer Perez (114 pounds), Beto Vila (115 pounds), Alda Vila (140 pounds) and Jeremy Cham (super heavyweight).
Zapata and Cham both won the Oregon State Golden Gloves titles last year.
Would-be boxers tend to come and go, discovering that the sport is just not for them. But Miller said his club of about 25 fighters has stayed pretty much intact this season, which started last September.
“This year,” Miller said, “has been so consistent.”
Oregon State Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament
Where: Midtown Ballroom in Bend, 51 N.W. Greenwood Ave.
When: Friday and Saturday nights. Doors open at 6 o'clock both nights. Bouts start at 7 p.m.
What: About 15 amateur bouts each night, along with beer garden, raffles, music
Tickets: $10 for Friday, $15 for Saturday. Kids 7 and under free
Contact: Richard Miller at 541-318-6211