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Tribal boxer makes the rounds in amateur ranks

Observer Staff

1/25/2005 12:00:00 AM

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal member and amateur featherweight boxer Tommy Chamberlain has hooked up with a state championship.

The 16-year-old's training and hard work recently paid off when Chamberlain won the Michigan Golden Gloves Championship on April 24 for the 125-pound weight class in the novice division.

"If you go for your goals and want something bad enough, you can get it," he stated. "Mt. Pleasant is the reason why I'm doing this. If I win, I put Mt. Pleasant on the map."

Two weeks prior to the state tournament, he won the West Michigan Golden Gloves Championship. He travels next to Kansas City, Mo. during May 7 and 8 to represent Michigan in the National Golden Gloves Championship.

An unorthodox fighter who's best punch is the hook, Chamberlain represented the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Boxing Club.

Coach Eli Hernandez of Vestaburg said his fighter is a good listener who pays attention to what he is saying.

"He's respectful and understands the fight game," stated the 39-year-old Hernandez. "He's a good boxer who has power and great hand speed. He is an excellent listener, which is part of being a successful team. The corner notices things from the outside and tells this to his fighter on the inside. It makes for a winning combination and he understands where I'm at."

Chamberlain, a northpaw with a 6-5 record, has also won the Ringside Native National Championship in Peshawbestown. The Mt. Pleasant native said he trains about eight hours a day.

He also said he had to step up his game for the Golden Gloves tournament. This included running seven miles a day to strengthen his legs.

"I wanted it bad," he stated. "And I put in the most effort to show how bad I wanted it."

For the Chamberlain family, Tommy's championship translated into lightning striking twice.

About 40 years ago, his father Tom won the district Golden Gloves Championship in the same weight class. Boxing is also something that appears to be in the family blood. Tommy said his brother, sister and cousin are all involved in boxing.

"Tommy's grandfather was a bare-knuckle fighter," explained Tom. He also said his son began taking karate when he was four.

"He was a champion then," stated Tom.

Tommy also gave props to his father and mother for their support.

"I want to thank my mom and dad for their belief in me," he said. "My dad helped me the most and was probably the reason I won."

He added he will stay in the amateur ranks, while also possibly eyeing the Junior Olympics.

"The amateurs is the best thing for me right now," he explained. "I'm still learning, still growing. It's like jumping in a lake and not knowing how to swim. You'll drown. One day I'll turn pro, but only when I'm ready.

"When I first started doing this, I wasn't any good. Now look at me. Trust me, if I can do this, a lot of other people can. I am a champion."