The Long Island Amateur Boxing Championships has drawn competitors from all over the Tri-State area and from all walks of life during its seven years in existence.
Friday night was no exception as Brooklyn resident Beka Gulbatashvili put his fighting skills to the test at Gleason's Gym in Downtown Brooklyn.
Gulbatashvili was victorious, scoring a decision over Iglesias Lee in a 152-pound, three-round semifinal bout.
"I saw that the guy had a really good jab, so I was trying to keep the distance and stay away from his combinations," Gulbatashvili said.
Gulbatashvili scored big with the judges after landing a hard right hand that prompted the referee to give Lee a standing eight count.
"He was really good, but I was better today," Gulbatashvili said.
Gulbatashvili will go for the 152-pound title Saturday night.
But the James Madison High School student had no knowledge of boxing while growing up in Georgia. He was, and still is, an avid swimmer, but boxing was completely foreign to him.
That changed two years after his arrival in Brooklyn.
"I saw the boxing place and was wondering should I go there," said Gulbatashvili, who trains at Bars Boxing Club in Brooklyn. "My father wanted me to go, so he took me there. When I started, I really liked it."
Reyes wins. For Peter Reyes, it was all about being the more aggressive fighter in the ring.
"I was trying to be a little more active and I was trying work on things that I was working in the gym on," Reyes said. "But sometimes when you're in a fight, you just have to go out there and give it your all."
Reyes' determination earned him a decision over Dequan Burgos in the 178-pound open final.
"That's how I approach all my fights," said Reyes, who forced standing-eight counts in the second and third rounds on Burgos. "A lot of people have more talent than me, but I out-will them. I come to fight and I give it my all every time I step into the ring."
This is likely to be one of the last stops on the amateur trail for the 25-year-old Queens resident, who hopes to turn professional after competing in the PAL nationals later this year.
Laying down the law. Bryant Cherry-Woode is a fighter inside and outside of the ring. By day, Cherry-Woode is a lawyer for the New York State Attorney General's office. By night, he is a boxer.
Cherry-Woode's skills in the ring earned him a decision in the 152-pound novice final over Brian Francis.
So what made a successful lawyer take up boxing? Cherry-Woode said he was boxing before he got accepted to the University of Buffalo law school in 2007.
"It's the discipline," Cherry-Woode said of his decision to continue boxing. "And life's a fight and this is another way for me to keep progressing."
Cherry-Woode stopped boxing while he was in law school, but returned to the sport after receiving his law degree.
"Boxing is a discipline just like anything else," Cherry-Woode said. "You just have to stay focused."