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Seneca Nation hosts premiere Indian boxers

SALAMANCA, N.Y. - Less than a year old, the Seneca Nation Boxing Club (SNBC) is already making its presence felt in Western New York. For 10 days in early October, the club will host the Native American Boxing Team as it trains for the 24th annual Tammer Tournament in Tampere, Finland.

"This is the first time that [the Native American] team has been invited to Finland - they usually invite the American Olympic Team," said SNBC founder Mike Tome, adding that while in Finland, the Native team will battle boxers from 15 countries between Oct. 16 - 19.

From Oct. 3 - 13, the team will train at the SNBC's Knockout Factory Gym in Salamanca and conduct a boxing clinic at the club's open house on Oct. 4 and 5. Other boxing clubs from Western New York and southern Ontario have been invited to participate.

The team is sponsored by the Native American Sports Council in Colorado Springs, Colo. and is comprised of the best boxers in Indian country. Several Olympic coaches and pro boxers will accompany the Native boxers to Salamanca. In addition, a film crew from the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is traveling with the team as part of its efforts to document the re-emergence of Native American boxing.

Tome said his gym's doors are open to anyone who wants to box. The operation is privately owned and privately funded but donations are certainly welcome. Training and boxing takes place in a former beverage company warehouse.

"Our gym has only been around since the beginning of the year, but we've been growing in leaps and bounds," Tome told Indian Country Today. "We're becoming a force to be reckoned with in Western New York."

Through boxing, Tome and fellow coaches (and former Golden Gloves boxers) Billy Abrams and Jimmy Wilder seek to give young people an alcohol and drug-free environment in which to learn commitment, discipline and camaraderie. USA Boxing, the sport's national governing body, has certified the three as both coaches and referees.

"The kids are really excited and proud of what they're doing," Tome said. "They like people to come and see how they're progressing. Every day they look forward to coming in and training and getting the praise that they deserve."

Last June, Tome took five of his prot?g?s to the Native American boxing championships at Peshawbestown, Mich. and brought home three national titles and two runners-up, drawing praise from USA Boxing.

The SNBC, in conjunction with the Casals Boxing Club of Niagara Falls, will host its first sanctioned boxing card on Oct. 12. The "Columbus Day Rumble on the Rez" will feature 15 bouts and will be held at the Gil Lay Arena in Irving, adjacent to the Seneca Nation Bingo Hall.

For more information on the Seneca Nation Boxing Club, visit its Web site at www.knockoutfactory.com.