On his third try, Kent’s Nathan Kim recently captured a Junior Golden Gloves national championship. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

On his third try, Kent’s Nathan Kim recently captured a Junior Golden Gloves national championship. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Kent teen takes Junior Golden Gloves national championship

Fighting bigger, older opponents did little for his record but it had much to do with the shaping of young Nathan Kim into a champion boxer.

The Kent teen recently came away with a Junior Golden Gloves national championship belt in his third trip to the big ring. Kim, who had lost five of six previous bouts, came ready to beat Idaho’s Praxton Wight to the punch for the 138-pound title in the 13-14 age division showdown at Mesquite, Nev., on July 22.

“I just went all out against him. Fought as hard as I could,” Kim said of his matchup against Wight.

Kim, 13, is a big kid who is still growing into his size-13 shoes. And while he matures in the gym as a boxer, he continues to excel in the classroom as a standout student who enters the eighth grade in the International Baccalaureate program at Totem Middle School, on Kent’s West Hill, but part of the Federal Way School District.

Dad keeps a good eye on his son. Mike Kim, a volunteer coach, was a former mixed martial artist who trained at the Tacoma Boxing Club. Young Nathan tagged along to the gym and soon got hooked on boxing.

“He’s been working hard and steadily improving and growing and learning … he’s a tough kid,” Mike Kim said of his prodigy. “I didn’t know if he was going to stick with it, but he has stuck with it this far.”

Since he began boxing at age 8, Nathan Kim has had about 20 amateur fights, most of them ending up on the losing end since it was often difficult to find kids his size at his age to challenge.

So he fought older, stronger opponents. He learned the hard way and became a quick study.

After losing to champion fighters in each of the previous two trips to nationals, a well prepared Kim found an opponent he could beat. He came into the fight confident, having trained by design against a 16-year-old sparring partner.

“Nate handled him well,” said his coach, Tom Mustin, of the Tacoma Boxing Club. “The 16 year old was throwing big shots at him, but it helped him use his jabs and his sidesteps. … That’s one of the things that really helped him to win the nationals … he fought a kid that was pretty much the same size as the boy he had been sparring.”

Mustin sees a boxer who will continue to blossom with skill and time.

“Nate’s going to be a big kid, a heavyweight. … What’s going to help him when he gets that big is he’s boxed as a youngster and he’s going to know all the moves and stuff.”

Nathan Kim likes to take his opponents head on, with a good right-hand delivery. His style continues to evolve. There are bigger fights on the horizon, including this year’s Silver Gloves state card.

Kim was one of four Tacoma Boxing Club national champions for the Tacoma Boxing Club. Others included 9-year-old Joseph Nieto (65 pounds, most outstanding boxer in his division); 10-year-old America Hernandez (125 pounds, female division) and 12-year-old Malachi Jenkins (125 pounds).

“I like hanging out with the team and traveling,” Kim said. “I just like the rush when you get into the ring.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Nathan Kim, middle, was one of four Tacoma Boxing Club national champions for the Tacoma Boxing Club. Others included, from left, 12-year-old Malachi Jenkins (125 pounds), 9-year-old Joseph Nieto (65 pounds, most outstanding boxer in his division) and 10-year-old America Hernandez (125 pounds, female division). MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Nathan Kim, middle, was one of four Tacoma Boxing Club national champions for the Tacoma Boxing Club. Others included, from left, 12-year-old Malachi Jenkins (125 pounds), 9-year-old Joseph Nieto (65 pounds, most outstanding boxer in his division) and 10-year-old America Hernandez (125 pounds, female division). MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

More in Sports

Kentwood swimmer in the fly section of the IM race. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood and Kentridge record points at state swim

Swimmer and diver recorded points at the King County Aquatic Center.

Oksana Galiant face-to-face with her opponent in the state championship. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Mat Classic XXXV breakdown: Kent School District

Kentwood’s Wright and Kent-Meridian’s Galiant just miss titles.

t
Kent Reporter Male Athlete of the Week: Tyler Lopez

Lopez is a natural born leader and has a bright future ahead of him.

t
Kent Reporter Female Athlete of the Week: Liliana Delgado Hernandez

Delgado Hernandez has a fearless and positive attitude.

Sophomore Brandon Tagle drives to the hoop in the second half. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood boys basketball makes state for first time since 2020

Conks needed an extra quarter to get past SPSL champs Sumner on the road.

Royal 165-pound wrestler Jessie Neff pins his opponent early in the tournament. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Wrestling: Kent-Meridian sends eight to state

Royals took second in the district tournament at Todd Beamer.

3A NPSL MVP Jaylen Petty dunks the ball against Lincoln in the first round of the playoffs. Ben Ray / The Reporter
NPSL All League basketball awards announced

Auburn, Kent and Federal Way school districts represented.

A halftime show consisted of a performance from the Kentridge unified dance team between the second and third games of the night. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Pack the Gym is a celebration of community

Unified basketball brings three Kent schools together.

Courtesy Photo
Kent Reporter Male Athlete of the Week: Schuyler Wright

Wright is one of the hardest workers on the Conk team.

t
Kent Reporter Female Athletes of the Week: Ness Votiesek and Kiele Vaisese

Votisek and Vaisese are making a difference for the Kentwood unified team.

t
Kent-based T-Birds goalie Ratzlaff chosen WHL Goaltender of the Week

Goalie stopped 62 of 63 shots in victory over Everett Silvertips

Junior Kaylee Guiles finds a hole in against Kent-Meridian. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kent’s girls flag football teams make solid first impression

Kentlake reigns supreme, sitting at 2-0 after the first two games of the season.