Two Mercyhurst students competed in their first Golden Gloves boxing matches Sunday at an Erie east side church social hall.
Doug Kaluhiokalani, a welterweight (141 pounds), won his match against Keegan Lupori of South Park. He advanced to a fight in two weeks in Pittsburgh.
Andrew Barninger, a light middleweight (152 pounds), was not as fortunate, as Bobby Osterrieder of Butler defeated him in the third round on an RSC (Referee Stopped Contest).
Barninger competed and persevered but it was not quite enough in his first bout.
“I felt like I won the first round because I had longer reach than he did—kept him away. I just kept jabbing and jabbing,” said Barninger, who then fell behind to Osterrieder’s second and third-round whirlwind attacks. “I just wasn’t ready for that. It’s hard to deal with.”
Kaluhiokalani’s victory at Holy Trinity Catholic Church’s social hall, 2220 Reed St., was a storybook, come-from-behind win. Lupori took control of the first round, firing lightning-quick punches and jabs left and right.
In the second round, Kaluhiokalani became angry.
“I was nervous, but when he started punching me, I was like this (guy) is going down,” Kaluhiokalani said. “Technique won that fight.”
He patiently waited for the right time to throw his punch and finally connected with a murderous right hook which threw Lupori off his focus. In the third round, Kaluhiokalani’s victory became apparent, as he connected with quick punches until the official stopped the fight and named Kaluhiokalani the victor.
Nola Hessom, assistant director of Mercyhurst’s mixed martial arts program, enjoyed watching Kaluhiokalani’s first bout.
“Doug did really well. He was very tactical and structured. We teach a tactical defensive technique called ‘Crazy Monkey,’ and he had his head in the fight and waited for the perfect time to strike,” she said.
The two Mercyhurst fighters had been training hard for this event and will continue to hit the gym for fights in the future. Barninger has aspirations of fighting again and Kaluhiokalani has qualified for the Pittsburgh tournament. He will compete for the Western Pennsylvania Sub-Novice Championship.
“They learned they have some things to still work on in the gym, but neither one embarrassed themselves,” said John Bruno, director of the college’s MMA program. “There aren’t too many people on the planet who know what it’s like to step through those ropes.
“But I told these guys, ‘If you want to do it, do it. You’re still young. You don’t have to become a boxer, but you’ll know what it feels like.'”