SALEM - The Cleveland Area Golden Gloves continues this weekend at the Brook Park Recreation Center and for the second time in as many weeks, a boxer out of the Salem Boxing Club will make his boxing debut.
Last week, Zachary Daniels stepped into the ring and lost a split decision to Empire Boxing's William Trommel. This Saturday, Zach Siefke will answer the bell when he takes on Jon Sikula in a 165-pound bout.
"This week our entire focus has been on Zach Siefke," Salem Boxing Club co-owner and trainer Ron Jackson said. "Zach is our top priority. Our focus is getting Zach ready to go out and fight the best fight he possibly can."
Siefke, a 2009 graduate of Marlington High School, is new to the sport. He took up boxing just a few months ago, but Jackson sees promise. He also sees the potential of a win on Saturday.
"Zach's doing really well," he said. "Especially with the little bit of time he's been in it. He's been training as much as he can. He doesn't get to come in as much as he would like. He works 12-hour shifts at Mac Trailer, but he does what he can and when he's at the gym, he works extremely hard. He's put in a lot of work and has a good chance of doing something this weekend."
To better his chances, members of the Salem Boxing Club have come together to work around Seifke's hectic work schedule. Jackson has opened the gym for Siefke's on Sundays. His fellow boxers have made sure Siefke always has a sparring partner no matter when needed.
"I'll tell you what, the other guys here have really been great," Jackson said. "We're truly like a family here. I know that sounds like a clich, but we have each other's backs. When we all leave at night, we do a fist touch and a shoulder hug. Zach Sieke's a big part of that family and another good kid. Just the other night when we were leaving he said 'love you coach.' He knows I'm here for him. He knows the other boxers are here for him and that's all he needs. That's all any of us need. And it's why we're here and why we do what we do."
Support and affection aside, his sparring partners also provide Siefke with the kind of stiff competition that makes good boxers better. Daniels especially has pushed Siefke to the top of his game.
"Daniels is 6-foot-1," Jackson said, "Siefke is closer to 5-11. Siefke just doesn't have the reach that Daniels has, but he goes toe-to-toe. Daniels has also been doing this a little longer than Siefke, but they go at it pretty good. They're definitely good for each."
This week, Siefke's training has been especially intense. As the weekend approaches, Jackson will slow it down and focus on getting prepared mentally for his first trip into the ring.
"We won't let him spar on Friday," Jackson said, "We'll have a light workout and work on mental awareness. After Wednesday, we'll basically be working on drills and mental stuff. And then it's in the ring on Saturday."
And getting into that ring is the biggest challenge. What happens after that happens. Sure, a win is what they all want, but just slipping between the ropes, that's a victory already.
"It takes a lot of courage, a lot of courage, to step into that ring," Jackson said. "Once you're in it, you just do your best and leave it up to the judges. Of course, we're praying for a victory, but we're proud that he's willing to step in there and represent the Salem Boxing Club. Somebody has to lose and somebody has to win. Zach has worked hard and he deserves to win and has the ability to win, but as long as he boxes the best match he can, we're behind him one hundred percent."