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Friday, May. 24, 2019
Top Glove tandem in tip top shape
by Randy Pascal

Whether it took just one bout or three, it really didn't matter to the Top Glove Boxing Academy tandem of Daniel Schmidt and Aden Souleiman Djama. The end goal was the same - emerge from the Gold Gloves Provincial Championships as gold medal winners.

Djama would more than double his career fight total over the course of the weekend, kicking things off Thursday evening with a unanimous decision over Hamza Zawari while competing in the highly popular Youth 69kg weight class.

The 17 year old grade 12 student at Lasalle Secondary School remained in complete control through a second bout the following evening, again claiming a unanimous decision, this time over Jose Venture of the Jamestown Boxing Club in Oshawa.

Back in the ring again on Saturday night, Djama claimed a split decision (2-1) over Chris Webb of B.A.M. Niagara Boxing Club. "I didn't think I would win three in a row, to be honest," acknowledged the local pugilist who entered the tournament with a record of 0-2.

"I feel like I started off more aggressive, I was going for it more. The last fight was definitely the hardest. He was the best of the three fighters. In the second one, he was hitting me and I was hitting him."

As much as the experience provided plenty of positives for the young man just entering his second year in the sport, Djama knows that the workload only gets more demanding moving forward.

"I need to run more, train more, I need more stamina, and develop more skill with my punches," he said. "I watched the "Open" class final (in his weight bracket). The guys that were in "Open", they were punching much more frequently, they were moving their head a lot more, they were going in and out."

Despite giving up three years to his clubmate, Schmidt was entering his ninth career bout at Golden Gloves. He would need only a singular victory, a unanimous decision over Carter Korman of Built by Mack Boxing in Don Mills.

At just 14 years of age, Schmidt is already conscious of the strides that he has made since first entering the squared circle. "I've seen a big improvement," he noted. "Before, I did what I could, I guess. Now, I know how to win, how to make them miss punches, how to find a good angle."

"The experience helps. Before, I wouldn't move away, I would just stay in one place. I wouldn't move to the left or right, I wouldn't duck underneath punches. This time, I was ducking all the time, well, at least in the first two rounds."

Not surprisingly, Schmidt was confident the fight would go his way, even as he awaited the judges' decision. "I was pretty sure I had it," he suggested. "I didn't really notice him hit me much." Right on the cusp of making the jump to the "Open" classification, the 48-50kg boxer is anxious to fine-tune his craft, just a touch, before battling even tougher opponents.

"I think I need to put everything together, keep things in tight, good and compact," he said. "I need to learn slipping, and punching faster off those." Top Gloves head coach Gord Apolloni is hopeful that he will be able to get his crew back in action in February, ideally with an event that would be hosted in Sudbury.

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