CHAMPION—Golden Glove champion Johnny Spell Jr., left, talks to Courier reporter Smokin’ Jim Frazier.
Pittsburgh is turning into the mecca of boxing as evidenced by the standing room only crowd that packed the Monroeville’s Double Tree Hotel April 14.
The Golden Gloves Open Class Western PA championships never had it so good. And there was one among them who proved he was a “cut above the rest” —Johnny Spell, the Perry High School junior, upset the defending Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion Amonte Eberhardt, of the 3rd AVE WPAL, in the 141-pound division.
Spell, of North Side WPAL, has been blessed with speed, accuracy, unusually quick reflexes, sturdy defense and power. Spell out hustled Ederhardt in the first round and held on to win a very close decision.
“Only thing square in boxing is the ring,” said Jimmy “Mad dog” Cvetic, director of the Western PA Golden Gloves and the Western PA Police Athletic League. “It was a very close fight. Amonte gave away the first round and he battled back but didn’t get the decision. Johnny fought a good fight.”
Spell treats boxing more like a religion than a sport. He studies fighters from the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. It is this kind of dedication and passion for the sport that has gotten him this far. Spell is trained by his father, Johnny Spell Sr. who was a former great amateur and pro boxer. Spell has trained his son since he was 2 or 3 days old and will lead him to a national title.
“Not many 16 or 17-year old kids ever make it to Nationals,” said Spell, Sr. “My son was not a stranger to Amonte Eberhardt. We have been sparring against him for a couple years and I thought my son would beat him because for the first time we are just as big and strong as Amonte. My son now has grown man strength.”
Look for Spell Sr. to win Trainer of the Year honors.