CHICAGO — These are men who might not be training in places like this anymore, but it’s safe to say they became who they are because of them.
Nick Petrecca is showing off some of the medals he won in the sport of boxing to Frank Smith as the sun shines through the windows on an unusually warm April day at Sam Colonna Boxing on West 35th Street in Chicago.
Tim Adams isn’t far away, sitting as he watches those former competitors talk while new generations in the sport are training at other spots in the gym.
They are here as part of the leadup to the event that links all three of them along with thousands of other boxers over the past century: The 100th anniversary of the Chicago Golden Gloves.
It’s a centennial celebration for the tournament that will stage its championships at Cicero Stadium, 1909 South Laramie Avenue from Thursday until Saturday, with the bouts beginning at 7 p.m.
Petrecca added to that in his career in the Chicago Golden Gloves, winning the 1963 and 1964 featherweight championships along with the National Golden Gloves title in 1963.
Smith captured titles in the Chicago Golden Gloves three times in three different divisions: 1973 flyweight, 1974 Bantamweight, and 1975 featherweight.
“Doing this, it was phenomenal. The Golden Gloves tournament was great,” said Petrecca of the Chicago Golden Gloves. “To win it was even more so.”
Adams fought around the same time as Smith, winning the lightweight championship in 1972 and 1973 then later serving as a referee in the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament. He’d also officiated a number of professional bouts for decades but always held a special place for his hometown tournament.
“As far as my life’s concerned, it meant a lot,” said Adams of the Chicago Golden Gloves. “I think without Golden Gloves boxing, I don’t think I could have achieved the things I did, not only as a boxer but also as a professional referee.”
Larry Hawley has more from these fighters on the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Golden Gloves from WGN News Now in the video above.
You can also see WGN Morning News’ “Around Town” segment on the tournament in 2023 by clicking here.