‘Oli’ Hope is regional Junior Olympic boxing champion

'Oli' Hope is regional Junior Olympic boxing champion He came, he saw, he didn't get hit much! The Regional Junior Olympic Tournament, formerly named Region X, now known as "WYMONDAK Nations" Junior Olympic Tournament was held June 2-3 in Sturgis.

In the 15-16 year-old junior welterweight division (139) South Dakota was represented by Vermillion's Oliver "Oli" Hope (25 bouts). Hope was one of three JO state champions to qualify to represent their state at the regional tournament. Representing Wyoming was novice boxer Michael Taylor (eight bouts). Representing North Dakota was Eric Stanley. Stanley, a veteran boxer of 105 bouts (80 wins, 25 losses) and a two time national Indian Tournament Champion who has once out-pointed Hope, was favored to win the division.

Taylor drew the first round bye which set the stage for Hope vs. Stanley II, the rematch, a match which would win Hope and Stanley "Best Bout" of the tournament trophies.

It was truly a battle of will and skill. Midway through round one, Hope won the edge by giving Stanley a standing eight count then finishing the round strong. Hope slipped and dipped in the second initiating and countering with power shots. A vintage Hope left hook nearly sent Stanley to the canvas early. Saved by the ropes, Stanley took his second eight count. Then action continued.

Entering the third, Hope's stamina was nearly spent, but his will still intact. He threw flurries occasionally and maintained a solid defense. The referee momentarily stopped the bout to examine Stanley's bleeding mouth, and the ringside physician allowed the bout to continue. Sensing a victory was in jeopardy, the veteran Stanley came on strong, but it was too little, too late. Hope advanced.

Taylor's coach, Lawrence Padilla, was relieved to see Stanley eliminated and hoped Hope would be weakened from his rigorous semi-final match.

The championship bout started with Taylor coming out aggressively expecting to catch Hope off-guard and neutralize the experience factor. Padilla's earlier relief changed to dread as Hope landed his left hook. A left hook, which would have even left "Smokin" Joe Frazier in awe, sent Taylor to the canvas via knock-out. Taylor regained consciousness and was assisted out of the ring by the ringside physician where he fully recovered.

Hope is currently and forever will be the three-time regional Junior Olympic champion. He and Coach Marc Zimiga will be heading to Marquette, MI for the national tournament June 19-24. They are in need of funds to finance the trip. Anyone interested in sponsoring please call Marc at 624-8508 or send donations to Vermillion Boxing Team, 910 Katherine, Vermillion, SD 57069.

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