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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Bombers impress at worlds

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bootheel Bombers Boxers Tyler Latamondeer and Matt Gephart
SIKESTON - Two boxers from the Bootheel Bombers Boxing stable fought at the 2006 Ringside Championships at the KCI Expo Center in Kansas City from August 1-5.

Matt Gephart and Tyler Latamondeer both of East Prairie were among 1,100 boxers to compete in the championships.

The championships were held in six rings with 211 champions crowned. Boxers from around the world convened upon Kansas City to prove their pugilist skills in the ring.

Fighters from Canada, Ireland, Japan, Mexico and from around the U.S. competed in 17 different weight classes at the championships.

Gephart, 17, competed in the open 178-pound 17-34 age division. According to Bombers trainer Brad Wick, Gephart competed in one of the toughest weight classes in the tournament.

"Matt went up against the Canadian national champion Glenn Johnson," said Wick. "Johnson was also the 2004 Ringside 178-pound world champion. Johnson is also part of the Canadian national team, so needless to say it was a very tough fight for Matt. I give Matt credit, he fought an excellent fight and we thought we were winning the fight early on."

Gephart stood toe-to-toe with a highly decorated fighter and impressed the crowd with his tenacity early in the fight. According to Wick, several questionable punches thrown by Johnson doomed the underdog story of Gephart.

"Matt kept getting hit in the back of the head which are illegal blows in amateur boxing or in boxing period," said Wick. "Johnson was warned twice and the third time he caught Matt right square in the back of the head and put him down. Matt couldn't continue after that illegal hit. We were mad at the events that took place but you can't do much about it. We have to pick back up and get back in the gym and train even harder for the next fight."

The results were hard to swallow for Wick and Gephart but that doesn't mean the hard work is over. The Olympic trials are just around the corner.

"Matt has his head back up and is ready to get back to work and get ready for his next fight," said Wick. "The next big boxing tournament we are going to get ready for is the Olympic trials. Some of the smaller tournaments we hit are point scorers for the trials and we are gearing up for those as well."

Latamondeer, 11, fought in the 11-and-12 year old division in the 60-pound weight class. Latamondeer had a great showing at the championships finishing in second place.

Although small for his age, Latamondeer showed the heart of a lion reaching the finals and turning some heads at the championships. As in the case with Gephart, the ending of the Latamondeer fight was controversial in nature.

"Tyler fought Ivan Ledesma from Brooklyn, N.Y., and we felt real confident heading into the fight with Ledesma," said Wick. "We figured Tyler had a good shot at winning the title but the referee stopped the fight because of a penalty against Tyler. He fought a good fight and gave it his all. Tyler is a young fighter and he is learning something new every day about boxing. I can't complain about the position he finished because that was a major tournament and he held up well."

The Bombers continue to work out and box at MaxOut Fitness in Sikeston. The Bombers will compete in a pro-am show at the Black River Coliseum in Poplar Bluff on Aug. 26. As for Gephart and Latamondeer, the championships gave them a measuring stick for the future and earned the gym some stripes in the boxing community.

"I am proud of Matt and Tyler," said Wick, "because they represented the gym very well. It was our first time at the tournament and it was a learning experience. We are going to hit the gym even harder and work on the things we learned at the championships."