2010 Air Force Boxing Wing Open Championships
Thursday, March 4 -- 7 p.m.
USAF Academy, Colo. -- Clune Arena
The annual Air Force Wing Open Boxing Tournament is an extension of the boxing class and intramural program that is offered to the Cadet Wing in the fall. Although boxers have the opportunity to compete at Friday Night Fights and various National Collegiate Boxing Association events throughout the year, every contender is always eyeing the beginning of February when the Wing Open tournament begins.
"This is always an exciting time of year," head coach Eddie Weichers says of the tournament. "All of the boxers bring such a strong will to win. That is what makes these matches so intense. Every single one of them knows that they are just one bout away from the Wing Open Championship round. Clune Arena is where they all want to be."
The first three rounds of the Wing Open Tournament are held in the Upper Boxing Room of the Cadet Gymnasium. The intensity builds throughout each round and soon, only one thing is certain ... the capacity of the boxing room is not enough to contain the thrill of collegiate boxing.
Since its inception, the finals of the Wing Open has become one of the most anticipated events on the Academy's calendar, as the atmosphere of Clune Arena is nearly as entertaining as the projected bouts. Cadets usher the spectators to their seats, while the Cadet Drum and Bugle Corps entertain the crowd.
The champions of the Wing Open will form the core of the team that will represent the Academy in national competition. The weight divisions begin at 112 pounds and continue through 119, 125, 132, 139, 147, 156, 165, 175, 185, 195 and heavyweight.
In the 49-year history of the Wing Open, 11 cadets have made their mark by winning their division title for four consecutive years -- Jim Ingram (1964), Gary Vasek (1968), "Buzz" Dyre (1969), Charlie Stallworth (1973), Alex Cline (1980), Ricky Graham (1982), Bryan Dunn (1993), Mike Benza (2000), Joel Rivera (2001), Darren Smith (2005) and Willie Lloyd (2007).
In addition to the entertainment aspects of the Wing Open, the Falcons have dubbed the event "Fighting for a Cause". Since 1984, the Air Force boxing team and the Wing Open have donated more than $260,000 to worthwhile causes and families in need throughout the Colorado Springs area.
And although the championship is a culmination of a year of hard work and dedication for the winning boxers, it is also the start of a second season of competition. The 12 Wing Open victors, or "The Dirty Dozen", form the nucleus of the Academy team that will compete at the regional and national meets.
To date, Air Force boasts a history of 18 national team titles, 29 regional team titles, 102 national champions and 281 All-Americans.