Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Hard Knocks, Golden Gloves under (sky) lights

Daily Inter Lake | March 8, 2023 11:55 PM

Before he racked up a 9-4 record as a professional fighter, Jesse Uhde honed his skills at a place called Kalispell Boxing.

“Down in the old Jaycees building, on River Road,” he remembered this week.

These days the 1996 Flathead High graduate runs Hard Knocks Boxing and Fitness, established at 1645 Hwy 93 South. It also happens to be the host for Montana’s Golden Gloves competition on Saturday.

“First we’ve had it in about 10 years,” Uhde said. “The Golden Gloves was offered to us on short notice. … It’s kind of a big deal for our club.”

Uhde has boxed for two-thirds of his 45 years and cares deeply about the sport. He’s either participated in or helped run local boxing clubs since before high school.

In fact he has a step-daughter, Olivia Owen, who won a national Silver Gloves title the second week of February. Because who better to perfect the “Sweet Science” than a presumably sweet 10-year-old?

“She advanced to the regionals and then nationals,” Uhde said. “And we went down there (Independence, Mo.) and she won it.”

If you’re wondering — I did — Uhde’s establishment had nothing to do with a certain brawl that took place at another local boxing event on Feb. 11. Uhde (with Owen) was literally far from it.

Hard Knocks became sanctioned by USA Amateur Boxing last year, which is partly how it found itself hosting the Golden Gloves.

Speaking of which, there was no way to fit the event in the smallish space on 93; it will be at the Kalispell Center Mall starting at 6 p.m.

“We decided to set it up in the commons area, where the old Herberger’s was, under the sky light,” Uhde said. “The four halls in each direction will have the general seating. It’s going to be fun.”

Tickets are available at Agave Cantina & Grill, or by calling 406-260-7245. A portion of the proceeds will go to Veterans Community Response. There will be less overhead because Talos Security is donating its time.

Uhde has eight fights on his card, with two Hard Knocks boxers putting on the gloves: CJ Morris at 147 pounds and James Young at 156. They could qualify for regionals in Salt Lake City.

Uhde would like to use the open space at the mall as the next landing spot for his club, which has quickly grown to 50 boxers.

“I have a handful of boxers that are doing really well,” he said, and he hopes to get more into a sport that — after what he called a six- or seven-year quiet period — is again taking off.

As proof, there is Saturday’s event in the heart of Kalispell.

“It’s a fun, safe, family-friendly event,” said Uhde.

Where the state’s best will touch gloves and aim for Utah.

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 758-4463 or fneighbor@dailyinterlake.com.

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