Team Los Angeles vs Team Calgary November 16, 2007

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Michele Chong - Posted on 08 June 2009

"Northern Explosion"
Local trainer hosts International boxing event
By Michele Chong


Burbank resident, Steve Harpst, co-promoted his first local boxing show this past November. The "Northern Explosion" amateur boxing show took place at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello.Harpst is the founder of the Burbank Boxing Club, located out of the Burbank Community YMCA. He has been involved with the YMCA since 1996 and they recently debuted their brand new boxing ring and Club Room, where he trains over 60 men, women, and children.April Houle, YMCA Sr. Program Director says, "This was my first time seeing International competition. I enjoyed the fights and there were some great matchups, including two fights featuring girls, that had some really good exchanges."

As Head Coach of Team Los Angeles, Harpst has traveled to Canada three times to compete in various boxing shows. This all originated when Harpst met Canadian coach Louie Raposo, in August 2006, at a boxing tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. Raposo invited Harpst to bring a team from Los Angeles up to Canada, beginning in February 2007. It’s been a big success for everyone ever since. Coach Raposo says, "It was fun for the kids to come out to L.A. What an experience for them, whether they go into the Olympics or professional boxing. And they got to make new friends across the continent."So this time, Harpst and Team L.A. got to play host as they faced off against some of the best fighters that Canada has to offer. "Northern Explosion" featured 12 bouts of amateur boxing (ages ranging from 15-24), with teams from Los Angeles, Calgary and Edmonton, Canada, and a special guest team from Houston, Texas, who battled it out in front of a packed house of over 800 attendees."These kids are the future of boxing," says Harpst. "I know a lot of people were surprised to see just how skillful and exciting these amateur boxers really are. We went up against Canada’s most accomplished fighters. The Canadian team is a class act, in and out of the ring."

"Northern Explosion" featured several Burbank residents, including boxers Oscar Portillo, 24, and David Lopez, 17, both of whom were victorious against their Canadian opponents in hard-fought bouts. Portillo, who had also participated in one of the Canadian shows, says, "It feels great fighting in front of the home crowd and being able to put Burbank on the map. Now when we go to boxing shows, they’re starting to say ‘Those Burbank kids are strong.’ I thank Coach Steve for making it happen through his hard work and dedication."
David Lopez, Sr. and his son, David, both have participated in two Canadian shows. Lopez, Sr. was glad to have his son fight in front of a local crowd this time. "David really felt the support of the home crowd and it was an advantage for him. The Canadian team was ready for us and ready to fight," Lopez, Sr. explains. "David was a lot more comfortable because of all the Burbank fans who came out to the show to support him. I’m thrilled with his victory."

Other Team L.A. members included Burbank coaches Jeff Langton and George Moreno. Moreno, a professional fighter, was in the corner for the Burbank fighters and enjoys seeing the amateurs learn and grow from experience. He sums it up, "The fights were evenly matched and they fought well." Asked to give advice to the young fighters, Moreno says, "Be humble. Try to learn from people who have more experience than you. Remember, it only takes one punch to change the course of a fight." Jeff Langton, of Langton Boxing and Martial Arts in Burbank, has also traveled with the team to Canada and was happy to be on home turf."It was an excellent event. The fights were impeccable and I’m proud to be part of Team L.A," Langton says.

Harpst received Certificates of Appreciation from both L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. Lee Baca and L.A. Councilman Bernard Parks. The World Boxing Hall of Fame's President Adolfo Perez also presented team awards to Canada Coach Louie Raposo, Houston Coach Kenny Weldon, and Los Angeles Coach Harpst.Visiting Coach Weldon (who was Evander Holyfield’s trainer) gave praise to the show, "The atmosphere made it an exciting event. I’m glad I was able to feel the boxing climate of L.A. again. There is so much boxing history in Los Angeles—it’s amazing. This show is a great thing for California," states Coach Weldon.

The goal of many amateur boxers is to compete in the Olympic Games. This goal is achieved by participating in different amateur boxing shows like "Northern Explosion."USA Boxing’s Joe Zanders says, "It was a fantastic show. This competition is what we need for local boxers, as they think about becoming Olympians someday. The teams competed well against each other."

There were also many well-known professional fighters in attendance, inspiring the young amateurs, including Francisco "Panchito" Bojado, Mike Weaver, Israel Vazquez, and Bobby Chacon."Everybody is already asking me when our next show is. That’s the best compliment," says Harpst. "I would love to make this an annual event."