Amateur boxing in Baltimore is an anachronism. In the city's seven active boxing gyms, one would not be able to find more than 40 amateur boxers, most of whom have never competed in a local tournament.
Ed Sauerhoff, a real estate salesman and ex-fighter, is trying to change all that. With an eye on operating his own gym in West Baltimore, he is sponsoring the South Atlantic boxing championships at Teamsters Hall tonight, with competition in weight classes from flyweight to heavyweight.
The winners in the open and novice classes will advance to the regionals at Hillcrest Heights Feb. 7, where they will challenge fighters representing Washington, Virginia and West Virginia for a chance to compete in the nationals at Colorado Springs, Colo.
Many people are familiar with the story of Sugar Ray Leonard, who used his 1976 Olympic medal as a springboard to a professional boxing career that made him the wealthiest fighter in history. But Leonard came from Palmer Park, north of Washington, as have most of Maryland's most distinguished amateurs.
In the '80s, Baltimore did boast two national champions -- Percy Harris, now the IBC's Intercontinental middleweight champion, and super heavyweight Warren "Chico" Thompson.
"Back in 1981, I had 150 boxers registered in the South Atlantic region," said Frank Gilbert, the former district chairman and now a trainer-manager at the Loch Raven Optimists Club. "A lot of kids got interested in boxing as a result of the 1976 Olympic success of Leonard and Michael and Leon Spinks. But today, there is little, or no interest in this city."
Meanwhile, Sauerhoff will try to keep the city's few amateur boxers busy. His 12-bout program will also feature a "non-title" exhibition by 14-year-old Andy Glassmyer, a stylish 85-pounder from the Loch Raven gym who is heading for the Silver Gloves in Kansas City, Kan., Feb. 6.
The first bout tonight is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $15 and $10.