MANNING - Boxers from across Clarendon and Sumter counties, North Carolina and South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida will test their skills in the ring on Nov. 10 when 180 Boxing and Fitness hosts its first boxing tournament, …
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MANNING - Boxers from across Clarendon and Sumter counties, North Carolina and South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida will test their skills in the ring on Nov. 10 when 180 Boxing and Fitness hosts its first boxing tournament, 180 Southern Smoke, at the Manning High School gymnasium, 2155 Paxville Highway.
The tournament which is sanctioned by USA Boxing features a special guest who is no stranger to the boxing world, world-renowned and legendary referee Tony Weeks. Weeks has refereed bouts between some of the biggest names in boxing, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Oscar Lorios and dozens more in rings around the world.
More than 40 boxers will be featured in the tournament with at least eight females participating. The boxers range in age from 8 to 39, and every winner will take home a 180 Southern Smoke belt.
"I'm very excited," said Gabriel Blackwell, owner and instructor at 180 Boxing and Fitness, 31 N. Brooks St. "Our boxers are excited and nervous to be boxing in front of their families and friends. They are trying their very hardest to perform their best."
Blackwell said the tournament is being held to raise awareness of the boxing talent in Clarendon County and the surrounding areas as well as to help out his program financially.
"It costs a lot of money to travel to the tournaments and club shows," Blackwell said. "We travel frequently to North Carolina and getting up really early, traveling for three or more hours and prepping for a bout is very tiring for a boxer. They need to be able to get there, settle down and get ready for their bouts. Having a vehicle to accommodate everything would be great."
Blackwell said traveling to tournaments in Las Vegas, Texas and Miami would also showcase the local talent and give them the experiences of fighting in different arenas with a different group of boxers.
"I can't wait for the bouts to begin," Blackwell added. "I'm getting calls about times and matches, and it's really getting exciting."
Blackwell said several divisions would be competing on Nov. 10 beginning with the Junior Olympic Division for boxers between the ages of 8 and 16. The competition will end with the more seasoned and older boxers.
The tournament would not be possible without the generous support of local sponsors, Blackwell added.
"People can go to the 180 Boxing and Fitness Facebook page and take a look at all the people who are supporting our program and the tournament," Blackwell said. "They can also purchase tickets to the tournament on the 180 Boxing and Fitness Facebook page."
Ringside tickets are $20, and bleacher tickets are $10. Children under 4 are admitted free. The doors at MHS will open at 5 p.m. with the first bout slated to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at 180 Boxing and Fitness, its Facebook page and next door to 180 Boxing and Fitness at The Print Mill.
"The bouts will be exciting to watch," Blackwell said. "They're working hard to get ready to show everyone how talented they are."
While Blackwell works to promote skilled boxers in his program, he also features healthy life skills, including diet and exercise, along with the fundamentals of boxing.
While the name of his studio, 180 Boxing and Fitness, was derived from the fact that there are 180 seconds in each round, there is another reason he chose that name.
"It also takes a 180-degree turn to turn your life around," he added. "That's what I want to see accomplished here. I want to motivate men and women to turn their lives around through exercise and boxing."
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