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Golden Gloves boxing: Teen has come a long way to become a champion

MURRAY — Colby Rogers didn't see a future champion when the lanky 13-year-old wandered into his Salt Lake City gym with a group of rowdy, rude boys.

In fact, he wasn't sure he even saw an athlete.

"He walked into the gym with a rough group of kids," said Rogers of the now 16-year-old Danny Galloway, who advanced to Saturday's Rocky Mountain Golden Gloves Championships with a win over Alfredo Lawderoz of Wyoming, Friday night in the first round of fights at the Sports Mall. "They tried out the class, but he was the only one who showed any kind of respect. We (instructors) were really offended by their behavior."

So when Galloway approached Rogers after class to ask about joining the gym, Fight for Your Life, the coach said there would be conditions.

"We told him he could come back, but his friends weren't welcome back until they apologize for the way they behaved," said Rogers.

Galloway, who is a junior at Highland High, said he'd never played organized sports before committing himself to boxing.

Rogers said Galloway was not the most athletic prospect to seek training at the downtown gym.

"He had some of the worst footwork of anybody I've ever seen," said Rogers with a grin. "But I thought, 'He's got heart.' And that's exactly how he got here."

Galloway stopped hanging out with that group of friends and dedicated himself to learning from Rogers and the other coaches, including Rogers' father, at Fight for Your Life.

He said he is grateful he found the sport — and the mentors at his gym.

"I just love the discipline," he said. "It's made me feel a lot better about myself."

Rogers said it was in Galloway's 10th fight that he started to see the athlete emerging.

"I thought, 'This kid could do something'," Rogers said. "He does hit exceptionally hard, and he's very accurate. He knows how to fight."

Galloway said he was worried about facing Lowderoz, a more experienced fighter, in Friday's first-round of regional bouts.

"But I worry about every fight," he said. "I knew I had to be calm … and fight the way I've been training."

One fighter from Friday's bouts is already a champion. Duran Caffero, who is ranked No. 3 in the country and missed out on the 2012 Olympic team by two fights, defeated BYU student Brandon Packard.

Caffero earned the win when the referee stopped the fight near the end of the third round.

Packard, who was competing in just his ninth fight after taking up boxing last year at the Fullmer Brothers Gym in South Jordan, was disappointed he wasn't allowed to finish.

"I wasn't even hurt," said Packard, who gets married next week and will transfer to the University of Houston for his final year of college. "Maybe we'll meet again at nationals next year."

That won't happen because Caffero, who has been boxing since he was 8 years old and owns a record of 179-44, will turn pro in June.

His goal has always been to win a Golden Gloves title.

"It raises your stock quite a bit to win the Golden Gloves," Caffero said.

In the 152-pound bout Tyler Canning defeated Bob Leavitt after officials stopped the fight. In the 178-pound fight Tevin Groshelle, Montana, defeated Zach Christopolus, Utah. In the other 178-pound bout, Dillon Fowler, Idaho, defeated Damarian Kelly, Wyoming, after officials stopped the fight.

The championship fights will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Sports Mall in Murray. All proceeds from the fights, which include a raffle, will help pay for the fighters to travel to the National Golden Gloves Tournament in a few weeks.

JUNIOR OLYMPIC DIVISION: 67 lbs - Robert Chairez, Muay Thai, def. Makie Benn, SLC; 57 lbs - Orlando Curasco, Gate City, def. Yayier Estrada, City Center; 72 lbs - Jackson Pilivi, Fullmer Brothers, def. Ruben Marquez; 87 lbs - Edger Curasco, Gate City, def. Brandon Vinson, WVC.

NOVICE DIVISION: 112 lbs - Kensley McFerrin, Montana, def. April Catro, Delgado's (Heber City); 130 lbs - Kiana Payan, Delgado's (Heber City) def. Latisha Sanchez, SLC; 112 lbs - Roberto Perez, Gate City, def. Danny Martinez, Louie's; 123 lbs - Gabe Chairez, Muay Thai, def. Tyron Labuff, Montana.