CHICAGO (CBS) – Some of the area’s best amateur boxers will be bobbing and weaving in the ring when the annual Golden Gloves competition gets started on Friday at Gordon Tech High School, a switch from old St. Andrews Gym.
As CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke reports, an Olympic hopeful from the Lincoln Park neighborhood might be worth keeping an eye on.
Since 1923, the Golden Gloves has been an institution for turning out great boxers. And this year, they have 370 fighters – one of the most ever competing in the historic event.
“When they talk about you’re a Chicago golden glove champion other states are like wow, you have gone through a lot to become a golden glove champion. Muhammad Ali along with a lot of other people have gone through the Chicago Golden Gloves and became famous and are legends in boxing,” said Sam Colonna, a longtime Chicago boxing trainer.
Robert Jekabson, 23, is taking a swing at becoming a three-time Golden Glove champ. The 6’2” heavyweight finished in second place at nationals this fall and he is one of the top rated U.S. boxers
“This year I really want to repeat. People know you as the defending champ and you got to back it up. I’ve learned consistency in this sport goes a long way. If you’re not consistent and you’re not in shape you’re not going to get anywhere,” Jekabson said.
“He’s got a really good job, good movement, and he can think in the ring which I lot of fighters can’t do,” said Colonna.
Jekabson was born to be a champion. He comes from great pedigree. His mom was an Olympic rower on the Soviet team, his dad was a member of the Soviet boxing team.
“I think I was born with the genes. I learn all the time; my mother is a personal trainer with her I’m always working on strategy and fitness. My father is always giving me ideas on boxing technique, strategy, mental strength and weaknesses,” said Jekabson.
Jekabson’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the Olympic trials in July.
“I want to try to earn a spot on the 2012 Olympic team and go from there. I still haven’t decided f I am going to go professional or not but right now focus is on the Olympics,” said Jekabson.
Many believe Jekabson is a lock to be on the U.S. Olympic boxing team as long as politics doesn’t come into play. Both of his parents fled what is now Latvia due to threats from the KGB, because his dad was a Lutheran priest and involved in politics.