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CShields

Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields is in Mexico City this week for the Pan American Olympic Festival, a multi-sport event.

There are five athletes scheduled to compete in her weight division, but she won’t find out her opponent until the tournament draw.

Boxing competition is scheduled to run from July 16-20, but Shields confirmed Wednesday, July 16, that she won’t be fighting on the opening day.

“It’ll take focus. The preparation is already done,” Shields said. “There are some countries here that I’ve never had the chance to box before, so I’ll definitely have to make my adjustments to land clean-and-hard shots.”

The 19-year-old fighter from Flint, is one of four athletes representing the United States in the event, joining fellow Olympians Marlen Esparza and Queen Underwood and a male boxer, Cam F.

Shields won another gold medal in her last bout Saturday, May 31, at the Cheo Aponte Tournament in Caguas, Puerto Rico. She first drew worldwide attention as a 17-year-old in 2012 when she became America’s first female gold medalist for boxing as a middleweight at the London Olympic Games. [click to continue…]

Nevada’s Joe Bliss Last Link to Legendary Class

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Joe Bliss stands a lean 5-foot-6 with a thicket of white hair and bronzed skin sheening under the sun.

A case of shingles a decade ago sapped some of his strength and he wears hearing aids, his ears the victims of too many close-proximity 85-pound shell howitzer blasts when he served in the Korean War. The 81-year-old isn’t as quick as he used to be — certainly not as quick as when he won Nevada’s first national championship in boxing in 1959 — but there’s no question boxing remains in his blood.

Bliss, a gentle soul with a quick right-handed jab and powerful left hook, is explaining the importance of footwork for a boxer. He’s dancing on the grass outside his home in old southwest Reno, his feet nearly as nimble as they used to be when he boxed, his mind flickering back to all those championship bouts he waged as a Wolf Pack star in the 1950s.

“You watch boxing on TV and you never see any body punches anymore,” Bliss says. “Ever. And that was my favorite punch. You set them up with a body punch, and if you hit them in the solar plexus that’s the end of them. I’d fight with my defense. Bob and weave and make them miss and then start in on them. You set them up with different body combinations and you have them. Those were the good ol’ days.”

Bliss wasn’t only the last man standing after most of his fights. He’s also the last man standing from the Wolf Pack’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1973. Of the 13 legends inducted into Nevada’s Hall of Fame more than four decades ago, Bliss is the only one still living. After ex-Reno High and Wolf Pack star skier Dodie Post Gann died last Christmas Eve, Bliss is the last link to Nevada’s first great Hall of Fame class. [click to continue…]

Ex-NCAA Champ Set for California Sports Hall of Fame

Archie Milton

Many may not remember, but once upon a time, the finest heavyweight in the collegiate boxing ranks was a self-described “average athlete” from Redwood City’s Sequoia High School. But at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Archie Milton wasn’t average. He could fight.

“It’s always nice to be recognized,” said Milton, 77, a two-time NCAA national heavyweight champion at San Jose State who will be part of a 10-member class inducted into this year’s Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame class on June 11 at the San Mateo County Events Center. “It’s an honor to be thought of in that fashion.”

The first to ever think of him as a fighter was Julius “Julie” Menendez, the San Jose State boxing coach who built a Spartan fighting dynasty in the South Bay that rivaled any in the country, winning three consecutive NCAA national team titles in 1958, 1959 and 1960.

But boxing didn’t bring Milton to Menendez. Wrestling did — by accident.

As a freshman in 1957, Milton was asked to work out with a heavyweight from an opposing school. Menendez didn’t want to expose his San Jose heavyweight to the visiting rival, so Milton stepped in.

“When it was over, Julie says to me, ‘Well, I think you’re a boxer,’” Milton said.

Menendez was right.

As a 20-year-old sophomore but boxing rookie in 1958, Milton captured his first NCAA heavyweight title by beating defending champ Hal Espy of Idaho State in the semifinals. He then outpointed Wisconsin’s Ron Freeman for the championship. [click to continue…]