COLUMBUS — It was a boxing tournament far from the usual, but with $500 on the line, 12 competitors squared off Thursday at the Columbus Event Center for a chance to take home the winner-take-all prize.
The challenge presented to each contestant in the Boxing at the Bone tournament was unique — compete with 8-pound jumbo-size gloves inside a standard ring for three 1-minute rounds.
Because of Nebraska State Athletic Commission rules, tournament organizer and boxer Nick Schleich was forced to implement the oversize gloves instead of going with his original plan of using 18-ounce sparring gloves.
“I would have rather used the 18-ounce sparring gloves,” Schleich said. “I’ll have to work a couple of things out with the commission to make it closer to boxing than just the jumbo gloves at the next event.”
In the first round of the tournament, Schleich and his son Nick Schleich Jr. went toe-to-toe for an intriguing father-son matchup. The 21-year-old Nick Jr., who came away with the victory over his dad, said it wasn’t the first time the two have boxed since his father has trained him since he was 17 years old.
“We’ve actually sparred a lot before in the past. I was actually kind of used to it,” Nick Jr. said. “It wasn’t as weird as you think it would be.”
While a loss for the former amateur Golden Gloves boxer may suggest he was taking it easy on his son, Nick Sr. said his game plan didn’t come to fruition with the jumbo gloves.
“My game plan was to get him swinging with the heavy gloves and he might get tired by that third round. But no, he has better lungs than me,” Nick Sr. said.
In the next round, Nick Jr. and Doug Mauricio of Schuyler provided the most excitement of the night, as both fighters were knocked out of the ring multiple times in a back-and-forth bout.
Nick Jr. claimed a narrow victory over Mauricio, but used a majority of his energy in the process.
“I was spent after that match,” Nick Jr. said. “I used all the energy I had.”
In the semifinal bout, 33-year-old Josh Hesse of Genoa took advantage of an exhausted Nick Jr. and claimed the victory to on move to the finals against fellow Genoa boxer Jesse Robinson.
Although Nick Jr. was unable to move on in the tournament, the Seward High School graduate said it’s still in the realm of possibilities to follow in his father’s footsteps as a competitive boxer.
“Right now my goal is to get my degree in criminal justice. I want to become a cop after that. Maybe in the meantime I’ll go into amateur boxing, it just depends really. I know I have kind of always wanted to do it,” Nick Jr. said.
Robinson, who won the lightweight side of the bracket at 161 pounds, brought intrigue to the finals match as he gave up 65 pounds to Hesse, who weighed in at 226 pounds.
On top of that, both grew up boxing in the same gym, The Genoa Boxing Club, which is now Beaver Creek Boxing Club.
“We were in different weight classes, but we sparred a lot,” Hesse said.
With Robinson having to win only two matches to get to the finals and Hesse competing in three, Robinson entered the championship with more energy.
The lighter Robinson, a relative of the Schleichs, couldn't overcome the weight advantage Hesse had.
“We both definitely wanted to win, but it was a lot of fun,” Robinson said. “We had a great time. Nick invited us out here to box so we thought we would come out and have some fun.”
The event was a fundraiser for the Sweatbox Boxing Club, which is run by Nick Schleich Sr.
For more information about the club, visit the Facebook page or call 402-563-0497.