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Teen from Iraq emerges as top boxer
Many kids come and go through Glenn Hamada’s youth boxing gym throughout the year.
Many are eager to learn the sweet science, but few stick around long enough to fully grasp and appreciate the challenging sport.
Too much hard work, they say. Too many hours skipping rope, punching speed bags and jabbing heavy targets.
There’s an emphasis on conditioning and many drills to learn skills.
But Hamada’s latest prodigy – a raw, untested teen from Iraq – is putting in the time and beginning to emerge from other fighters who train year-round at the Kent East Hill Boxing Club.
Mustafa Ali Al Sudani, 16, is a promising, southpaw boxer, a counterpuncher who is willing to learn the ropes from Hamada, a judge of more than 70 world title fights. Hamada, who has trained many champions, is gradually shaping the 141-pound fighter into something special.
“He’s disciplined and he got a lot of that discipline from his dad, who was in the Iraqi military,” Hamada said during a break in training at the Kent Parks Community Center that sits next to the Phoenix Academy. “He comes in here more than anyone else and he works out the hardest.
“He’s quick (on his feet and with a punch) but the most important thing is his discipline to conditioning, to running,” Hamada added. “His opponent might get tired, but he won’t get tired in the third round.”
Sudani is a quick study, even if the results haven’t shown it. He has dropped his first three amateur bouts by close decision, the latest to Gladiators Boxing Club’s Juan DeLuca in a USA Boxing-certified matchup hosted by White Center Boxing at Evergreen High School last Saturday.
“I am learning. (Hamada) has taught me many things, not just about boxing,” said Sudani, a junior-to-be at Kent-Meridian High School. “Boxing has taught me many things, and I want to learn more.”
Sudani and his family escaped the turmoil of Iraq and immigrated to Kent a few years ago. While his broken English has improved, it is often difficult to communicate.
In Iraq, Sudani played other sports, notably soccer, but wanted to try something new that involved his strong arms and hands and tested his endurance. When Sudani steps into the ring, he must be ready to keep his hands up, fitted in 10-ounce gloves, for three two-minute rounds.
Hamada said the young fighter is full of potential.
“He’s a good counterpuncher and improving on the aggressive side,” he said. “In a year and a half, he has really accomplished a lot.”
The goal, Hamada said, is to season Sudani and build his stamina and skills for bigger tests down the road, namely Golden Gloves, even Junior Olympic competition.
“It’s really unlimited,” Hamada said of his young fighter “I don’t think Mustafa wants to be a pro fighter. He just does it for conditioning and the sport of boxing.
“(At this stage) the most important thing for these kids is to learn the discipline of commitment,” he said. “If you apply that to work and to school … it will carry you to a higher level of life.”