Rumble in the Valley has local flavor
Pittsburgh has its Light Up Night. The A-K Valley has Lights Out Night.
Once again, the James 5:16 Center will be the center of the southwestern Pennsylvania boxing scene as the West Tarentum gym hosts the 11th annual Rumble in the Valley. Fights begin at 7:30 Saturday night.
“We've been planning it for at least three months,” gym official Bill Ludwig said. “(Trainer and event organizer) Dan Shaw has all the connections to all these people and all these gyms (in the area).”
The card features 17 bouts, with competitors in various age- and class-levels. Included are five fighters from the area.
Keeping fights fair and competitive at the younger age groups can be a challenge, but it is made easier because of the gym's affiliation with USA Boxing.
“In fighting at this level, you try to match up the ages, weight and experience. You want to make it interesting and competitive for the kids,” Ludwig said. “To get into this fight, you have to have a card with USA Boxing. That is like your passport. It tells everything about you.”
Springdale's Damon Knock, 19, was in the undercard last year, but will compete in the 178-pound main event this time around.
Other local young fighters not associated with the gym will be participating.
Riley Shankle, 14, and his brother Kody, 11, will be competing for the first time.
The Kittanning-area natives fight out of the Wick City Gym: Riley at 110 pounds and Kody at 90 pounds.
Other A-K fighters include Duane Preimus, 16, of Springdale, in the 145-pound weight class.
Tarentum's Jordan Zlacki, 23, fights at 150 pounds, while Bryaunt Williams, 27, also of Tarentum, is in one of the heaviest weight classes, at 205.
One of the bigger deals for the gym is the inclusion of clubs from two of the area's universities.
Indiana (Pa.) and West Virginia Universities will be sending a group of competitors to the event.
Ludwig and company hope it is the beginning of something bigger.
“Obviously we like it; They get a connection with our gym,” Ludwig said. “People come back to this event year after year. We like them to come down.”
The first bout will feature Ludwig's son, Luke, 12, in the 102-pound weight class. The Allegheny Township native made his competitve debut at last year's event.
Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.