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The rise of boxing in St. Petersburg

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
Published July 31, 2005

1977: With the St. Petersburg Police Athletic League getting out of boxing, John Sciandra Sr. buys its old ring for $1,350 and attempts to open a reincarnated St. Pete Boxing Club. It doesn't last long.

July 26, 1982: Jim McLoughlin opens the St. Pete Boxing Club at 1032 Fourth St. N. Tony Mellot is a trainer. Mike Birmingham, an amateur fighter, is the first member, joining before the gym even opens. Shortly thereafter, he introduces his brother Dan to McLoughlin and they become friends.

December, 1982: David Santos' father, Jose, drops him off at the gym after he is caught stealing. He instantly takes to it, but loses his first amateur fight to Jacksonville's Shane Gannon.

Jan. 10, 1983: Roberto Medina joins the SPBC and becomes its biggest star.

July, 1984: Santos, 13, wins 90-pound division at Sunshine State Games, his first major win.

July 20, 1985: Medina arrested after losing to Olympian Meldrick Taylor on national television. It is discovered he was a prison escapee from Denver whose real name is John E. Garcia.

1985: Santos wins a Junior Olympic championship, his biggest victory and a turning point for the club.

1985/1986: Dan Birmingham, who has been popping in and out, is finally persuaded to join the SPBC full time. With McLoughlin tending to personal matters, Birmingham begins running the club.

1987: Ronald "Winky Wright" moves from Washington to St. Petersburg. SPBC member Billy Dugan talks him into joining the gym.

February, 1987: Santos is invited to the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival after winning Silver Gloves title.

May, 1987: Three of the SPBC's top boxers - Santos, John Sciandra Jr. and Dugan - are invited to train for two weeks at the Olympic Training Center in Marquette, Mich.

February, 1988: Santos, a junior at Gibbs High School, is invited to compete in the 1988 Olympic boxing trials.

April, 1989: Jeff Lacy, 11, arrives at the SPBC after a fight in school. Mike Birmingham is his first trainer.

May, 1989: Wright bursts onto the scene by making it to the semifinals in the 139-pound weight class at the National Golden Gloves tournament.

October, 1989: Wright wins his first national title, capturing the PAL 139-pound crown in West Palm Beach.

1989: The SPBC is ranked No. 3 nationally.

February, 1990: Wright wins the bronze medal at the U.S. Amateur Boxing Championships in Colorado Springs, losing to eventual champ and top amateur Steve Johnson.

April, 1990: Santos wins his first national PAL championship shortly after splitting with Birmingham and rejoining McLoughlin at the new Maximo Boxing Club.

July, 1990: Wright, ranked No. 3 in the country at 139 pounds, competes at the U.S. Olympic Festival in Seattle beating Johnson 4-1 to win the gold medal and improve to 48-4.

1990: Lacy wins first Sunshine State Games Junior Olympic title in the 85-pound weight class.

Oct. 16, 1990: Wright turns pro, beating Anthony Salerno in Tampa.

1991: The St. Pete Boxing Club wins its eighth straight regional Golden Gloves title.

1991: Lacy wins first Florida Junior Olympic Boxing Championship, capturing 95-pound title and Most Outstanding Boxer Award.

1991: Santos turns pro, beating Cornell Harris at the Robarts Arena in Sarasota.

July 25, 1992: Tyrone Booze, training at the Fourth Street Boxing Club run by McLoughlin, captures the first major title for an area fighter by beating Derek Angol for the WBO Cruiserweight championship.

1995: Lacy wins state Junior Olympic title at 156 pounds, beating Steve Harris of Orlando.

1996: Wright beats Bronco McKart in his hometown of Monroe, Mich., capturing a split decision for the WBO junior middleweight crown.

1996: Lacy loses in bid for Olympics, but eschews turning pro to try again in 2000.

1999: Wright loses bid for IBF junior middleweight title, dropping a disputed decision to Fernando Vargas on HBO that signals his arrival as a top contender.

1999: Santos loses first major title bid, falling to Joel Casamayor for the WBA super featherweight belt.

February, 2000: Lacy fights in the U.S. Olympic Trails in Tampa, electrifying the hometown crowd. A month later he makes the Olympic team.

Feb. 2, 2001: Lacy knocks out Jerald Lowe in first round of pro debut.

Feb. 1, 2003: Santos loses to Carlos Hernandez in final bid for a title.

March 13, 2004: Wright, a 3-1 underdog, becomes a star when he beats Shane Mosley by unanimous decision to unify the junior middleweight division, the first person to do so in 54 years.

Oct. 2, 2004: Lacy stops Syd Vanderpool in the eighth round to win IBF super middleweight title.

Nov. 20, 2004: In the rematch, Wright beats Mosley again.

Feb. 12, 2005: Birmingham is named Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

May 14, 2005: In the biggest win and payday of his career, Wright shuts out favored Felix Trinidad in a stunningly impressive performance.

[Last modified July 31, 2005, 01:32:21]


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