SANDY — Every morning, Highland High School senior Gabriel Chairez arrives at the gym at 5 a.m. to push his body to new heights. Despite being one of the best young Golden Gloves boxers in the country, few people, other than his closest friends, know he’s up hours before the rest of his classmates honing his skills.
That might change after Saturday’s Rocky Mountain Regional Golden Gloves championships. Chairez punched his ticket to the national Golden Gloves tournament with a brilliant and hard-hitting decision over Idaho boxer Omero Gallegos.
“Gallegos is tough and it took a minute to feel him out, but I felt like I took control midway through the second round,” Chairez said.
Surrounded by family members following the win, Chairez had more than just a championship to celebrate.
Prior to Saturday’s championships bouts, Golden Gloves Tournament Director Larry Fullmer presented Chairez with the first-ever Utah Golden Gloves Youth Development Scholarship, a $1,500 award to be used toward his continued education at Salt Lake Community College this fall.
“Gabriel has been such an exemplary young boxer, and person, we’re honored for him to be the first recipient of this award,” Fullmer said.
For Chairez, the scholarship is sweet and something he hopes to capitalize on.
“This means a whole lot,” Chairez said. “I want to do some big things in boxing but education is the key and now I have this scholarship.”
Chairez’s trainer, Matt Pena, said he’s been impressed with how much his young fighter has progressed this year.
“Just to see him show the kind of dedication it takes to get up every morning and train is special,” Pena said. “He’s a smart kid and he’s really improved a lot this year.”
It was a big night for Utah Golden Gloves boxers overall, with five of the seven contested weight classes won by Utah fighters.
Lehi’s Anthony Paz slipped by Wyoming’s Jairo Perez to claim the title at 114 pounds.
“I’ve fought him before and know he throws with a lot of power so I just tried to throw harder and counter what he was trying to do,” Paz said.
At 123 pounds, Wendover’s Chris Ramirez, who trains with his father and brother, dominated his fight with Montana’s Blake Gierke.
“After the first round I read him and knew I could take his punches,” Ramirez said. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, so it means a lot.”
After Chairez claimed the title at 132 pounds, Utah boxers Bladimir Estrada and Larry Gomez claimed titles at 141 and 152 pounds, respectively. Estrada won by decision while Gomez’s fight with Montana’s Cady Waslager was stopped late in the third-round.
The only other athlete competing in Saturday’s championships was Siala Siliga. Competing in the 201 pounds-and-up category. Siliga lost a decision to Idaho’s Jeremy Bronche.
Regional Gold Gloves champions now advance to the national tournament that is held in Las Vegas in May.
Rocky Mountain Golden Gloves Championships results:
- 112 – Joel Velasquez (unopposed)
- 114 – Anthony Paz dec. Jairo Perez
- 123 – Chris Ramirez dec. Blake Gierke
- 132 – Gabriel Chairez dec. Omero Gallegas
- 141 – Bladimir Estrada dec. Wryler Padilla
- 152 – Larry Gomez dec. Cady Waslager
- 165 – Matthew McCarl dec. Alfredo Landeroz
- 201 – Jeremy Bronche dec. Siala Siliga