Rock Hill will host its first Olympics-sanctioned boxing event as 11- through 16-year-olds compete in a regional tournament.
The 2019 Southeastern Regional Junior Olympics Boxing Tournament kicks off with general weigh-ins May 16.
The opening ceremony starts at 5 p.m. May 17, and the preliminary tournament follows. The local boxing competition starts at noon May 18. The weekend tournament is at Rock Hill High School, 320 W. Springdale Road.
The final championship tournament is 10 a.m to noon May 19.
Mario Noviello, owner of Light Bright Boxing, which is hosting the event along with Visit York County, said the tournament happens once every five years. Rock Hill was chosen over Columbia and Charleston.
“I’ve been eying this up for four or five years now,” Noviello said.
Light Bright Boxing has been running for about seven years, Noviello said. The gym trains athletes as young as 7 years old.
This tournament is the highest level of competition for the 11- to 12-year-old male and female groups, he said. The 13- to 14-year-old male and female groups and the 15- to 16-year-old male and female groups will be competing for the chance to advance to National Junior Olympics in Madison, Wis., in June.
Local professional boxers LaVonte “The Wold-Class Gentleman” Earley and former World Boxing Champion Lisa Garland will be at the event, according to a Visit York County statement.
Noviello said it’s exciting for his students to hear from professionals.
“Some of these kids are from troubled backgrounds, some are not,” he said. “Just to see that they could make it, I think kids need to see that. I think kids need good role models.”
Visit York County estimates up to 2,300 people could attend the event.
“We’re expecting a lot of people,” Noviello said.
“Visit York County is excited to co-host this event with Light Bright Boxing,” Andy Clinton with Visit York County said in a statement. “It’s been a pleasure to work with Mario to bring this first-time event to the county and this great opportunity to the athletes.”