Davis' fighters get a workout

It's known as the Willmar Golden Gloves Boxing Club. But each Monday and Wednesday evening at the gym, the boxing is preceded by "Kirk's Workout." Kirk Davis leads his pugilistic pupils through 20 minutes of calisthenics that are sure to get the ...

It's known as the Willmar Golden Gloves Boxing Club. But each Monday and Wednesday evening at the gym, the boxing is preceded by "Kirk's Workout."

Kirk Davis leads his pugilistic pupils through 20 minutes of calisthenics that are sure to get the heart pounding and deliver a good night's sleep. Pushups, sit-ups, leg lifts and mini sprints likely tweak every muscle.

"I'll quit the day the kids keep up with me," said Davis.

Upwards of 30 kids and teens pant and spar in the spotless "gym". There are no Rocky posters here -- instead, toughness is measured against a backdrop of wall paintings featuring pre-school-friendly teddy bears, alligators and trains. This is, after all, the Mites Indoor Playground.

A half-dozen parents sit in a row of chairs as Davis gruffly barks commands and occasionally offers gentle encouragement. Over half the youngsters are Hispanics.


I ask Davis how long he's been at this. "Since I was 12. Dick Evans was my coach," he said between commands. "I'm 46 now. I took one year off for college."

After the sprints, two teens don headgear and take to the ring, designated by a single strand of yellow rope around a pair of pillars and attached to the wall. Hard punching follows.

There are three girls. Amy Kloos, 22, a hairdresser who formerly lived here, but now drives from Morris. Freshman Samantha Peterson has a crisp jab, strength and balance. Amanda Larson, 11, played tackle football and figured since she enjoyed that she might like boxing, too.

Davis will try to get them all matches. Most often, the ring rats must travel to Wadena and St. Cloud for bouts. It's been 25 years since amateur fights were staged upstairs in the auditorium.

Davis said the program gets financial aid from the American Legion and sometimes the VFW. All youth starting age eight are welcome to join until the end of the month.

"Then we get serious," said the coach.

There is a $60 fee, but equipment needs are minimal. "Kirk's Workout" starts at 7 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday.

Christmas games


Four tournaments are in store for Cardinal athletes over the holidays.

Next Wednesday, the boys hockey team hosts holiday hockey for the first time since 1995-96 -- on three successive nights against Redwood Valley, River Lakes and Prairie Centre.

The Bremer Bank Classic boys basketball tournament runs next Wednesday and Thursday at the high school with New London-Spicer, Duluth Central and Becker.

The WildCard girls tournament next week is hosted by New London-Spicer. Willmar plays Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Friday, while NLS meets Watertown-Mayer. The finals are Saturday night.

Girls hockey is at Owatonna next Wednesday through Friday.

Both basketball tournaments are wide open, but the expectation is that it will boil down to Willmar and NLS each night, which always helps the gross. The NLS boys lost the opener to a strong Rocori team, but then tipped Litchfield by five. The Dragons turned around and toppled then unbeaten Willmar by 14. Meanwhile, the NLS girls beat Alexandria by five, not long after Alex crushed Willmar by 24.

On the fly

n Another honor has come the way of former Cardinal swimmer Mark Nordby (WHS '82), a teacher/coach at Ankeny High School in Iowa. This fall, Nordby and his assistants were named girls swimming Iowa Coaching Staff of the Year. Nordby received the same award several years ago as boys coach at Ankeny, a post he resigned three years ago.


n When Concordia and St. Catherine's tangled in women's hockey early this month in St. Paul, three 2005 Willmar graduate were on the ice. Jordan Nielsen played defense for the Wildcats while Alyssa Dahl and Mandi Samuelson skated on a line for the Cobbers. On Dec. 9, Concordia beat Hamline 3-2 with Dahl scoring her first two goals of the season since coming over from the Cobbers' championship volleyball team. Samuelson assisted on each.

n Laura Nielsen returned to game action Dec. 9 at Brookings in South Dakota State's 72-59 victory over Southern Illinois. Nielsen had been out with a dislocated pinkie. Against Southern, Nielsen had a basket and a rebound in nine minutes. It was the 6-2 freshmen's second game for the Jacks.

n Hockey defenseman Trent Gehrking broke his thumb in three places in the third period of the St. Cloud Tech game Dec. 5. He awaits doctor's clearance before returning to the lineup.

n Tyler Wahl and Danny Swanson, former linemates at the Civic Center, are among the leading scorers for the Tulsa Rampage in the Western States Hockey Junior B League. Swanson's 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points rank third in the league among defensemen. In a recent series, he skated on the same line with Wahl and his six assists helped Wahl notch two hat tricks in a three-game sweep of the Cajun Catahoulas. Wahl has 13 goals and 24 assists in 25 games.

n Look for Willmar, Granite Falls and Bird Island to go together to make a bid for the next- round of the Class C amateur baseball tournament starting in 2010. The state wants three towns involved now to get away from Thursday and Sunday night games which don't draw well.

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