Boxing to return to Natchez

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 8, 2000

Let’s get ready to rumble.

It’s been a while since those words kicked off a boxing match in Natchez, but that will change at 7 p.m. Saturday when the Adams County Boxing Club hosts a USA Amateur Boxing-sanctioned tournament at the Natchez Community Center.

Five Natchez boxers will compete in the event, said organizer and coach Robert Smith.

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&uot;My boys have been working real hard in the gym,&uot; he said. &uot;They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do and more.&uot;

Fresh off a win last week in Gulfport is 25-year-old Cleothia Rice, a 10-fight veteran who boxes at 159 pounds.

Other Natchez boxers include Daron Buie, an 18-year-old, 180-pounder with three fights under his belt, and 20-year-old Joseph Rabotte, a 220-pounder who will make his amateur boxing debut Saturday.

Two brothers round out the Natchez contingent on Saturday’s fight card. Breon Dunagan, 12, has had three fights and weighs 100 pounds, and his brother Blake, 11, has also had three fights, and weighs 85 pounds.

&uot;Blake just turned 11, so this will be a birthday present for him,&uot; Smith said.

While five Natchez fighters are licensed to fight, Smith said 16 boxers regularly train at his gym, located in the old band hall in Thompson School on West Stiers Lane.

To be licensed, a fighter must be at least nine years old, meet all USA Amateur Boxing requirements and pay a $40 application fee.

&uot;But they’ve got to meet my standards first,&uot; Smith said.

&uot;They’ve got to prove to me they can go the distance in a fight. They need to be in excellent physical condition, obviously,&uot;&160;he said.

&uot;They need to learn how to control their temper, and how to protect themselves and take a punch. They’ve got to be well-disciplined and know how to focus their attention on everything around them,&uot; he added.

Saturday’s fights will include boxers from all over the South, including clubs from Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

&uot;We’ve been all over attending other clubs matches,&uot; Smith said. &uot;The boys are pretty excited to be hosting their own.&uot;

This is the first fight the Adams County club has hosted in its four years of existence, Smith said. Natchez’s previous amateur club, the Natchez Boxing Club, hosted several fights in the 1970s and 1980s.