SALT LAKE CITY — Their trips to the National Golden Gloves Tournament didn't end the way they'd hoped, but it doesn't mean they don't take more than they lost from the experience.
Utah's three remaining boxers all lost their quarterfinal bouts Thursday with Isaac Aguilar (123-pounds) losing to Ja'Rico O'Quinn, Detroit; Larry Gomez (152-pounds) losing to Kareem Martin, Washington DC; and super heavy weight Jesse West losing a tough battle to Texas' Kent Brinson.
"I just started too late," said Gomez. "He didn't hurt me. I didn't even get tired. I did way better in the last round because I already knew (he was losing)."
Gomez was emotional as he was widely viewed as Utah's best hope for its first national title in 20 years. He said he'll probably fight a few more amateur bouts before turning pro. He's only been fighting about 18 months after walking away from the sport for five years.
"I have more of a pro style," he said. "Three rounds doesn't give me enough time."
The 20-year-old enjoyed competing in his first nationals said he enjoyed the experience, but he was disappointed with how he performed Thursday.
"I didn't fight like I know I could have tonight," Gomez said. "It's all right. I'll be back."
West was proud of how he performed, especially because he had to fight with a cracked rib. Thursday night's 3-2 decision was his last amateur bout as he the Ogden native plans to try and make a living as a professional boxer.
"I enjoyed it," he said of amateur boxing. "I loved it; it got me the experience I need. I know some new training I need to do to get ready for the professional level. I'll be fine. I'm ready to come back."
Boxing can be a rough ride, but West said he feels it's made him a better man — inside and outside the ring.
"It's tremendous," he said. "A quote that I heard once was, 'Conditioning revolves around everything, whether you want to be a good father, a good parent, good at anything you do, it comes back to conditioning because you have to push yourself beyond a normal limit."
The physical requirements of boxing are the perfect training ground for enduring the challenges of life.
"To get up at 5 in the morning, go to work, go to training, it all goes back to conditioning, how much you're willing to push it in your own life," he said. "So I'm in the gym sweating, and I crawl out on my knees, I can go to work, I can take care of my kids, I can play with them, I can do anything."
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