A new wave of young boxers is set to participate in the fourth edition of Ring Around the Warrior, an annual night of outdoor boxing that raises funds for St. Cajetan Elementary School.
Although the boxers as young as 8 years old are excited to compete in the event that begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, in the parking lot of St. Cajetan, 2447 W. 112th St., they’ve already achieved real success in the sport.
They might be ready to battle it out in the ring, but during training, they’re all friends.
“They kind of bonded over this over the summer,” said Dan Letz, a St. Cajetan alumni who founded the event. “They all kind of knew each other. Then, they started going to camps together. They all become buddies by the end of the summer. They all get to work with each other and learn from each other, which is cool, too.”
Letz has trained the younger boxers in recent weeks at Celtic Boxing Club, 3012 W. 111th St., and a host of other clubs in or outside Chicago are sending boxers to Ring Around the Warrior, including St. Cajetan’s Warrior Boxing Club; McGarry’s Boxing Club, of Beverly; Chicago Heights Boxing; Tri-City Boxing; Beast Boxing; Tallon’s Boxing Academy; Oakley Fight Club; Luna Boxing; Patriots Boxing Club; Izzy Does It Boxing; and EKF Martial Arts.
Letz said 16 matches are scheduled, with boxers ranging from children to adults over 30 years old. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children, and discounts are available for families.
Gates will open at 6 p.m., and food trucks and beer vendors will be on site.
About 1,300 people attended last year, Letz said, and proceeds benefit the St. Cajetan Men’s Club.
Young competitors such as Liam Winters, 8, of Beverly, are excited to show off their abilities. Winters, who attends Christ the King Elementary School, has attended the event before but will step into the ring for the first time after training for two years.
“You finally get to show your family how you box,” Winters said, noting his favorite part is that “you get to punch people in the face without getting in trouble.”
Winters will face off against Vinnie Miceli, 8, of Mt. Greenwood, who said he was attracted to boxing because it is “really competitive.” His brother, Frankie Miceli, 10, will also compete.
Two St. Cajetan students—Mickey Krischel and Mason Soto—will face off in front of their home crowd.
Krischel watched the event last year. He knew he wanted to compete this year.
“I think it looked really fun,” he said, “so I wanted to try to do it.”
As he took a break from training nine days before the event, he knew what he had to do.
“Put in hard work,” he said, “and hopefully it pays off.”
Dom Sloan, 11, of Oak Lawn, said it was fun to compete last year for the first time. He is in his third summer of boxing, and now, he has experience under his belt as he prepares to box again.
“I know a lot more about what’s going to happen,” Sloan said. “Last year, I had no clue what was going to happen.”
Letz runs his own boxing club and boxed when he attended Mt. Carmel High School. He has helped run several boxing fundraisers in recent years, and he is comfortable having young kids compete in this event, he said, because the excitement of competing outside in front of thousands of people can keep them interested in boxing.
Mike Egan, 17, of Mt Greenwood, trained at Celtic Boxing Club in recent years and has worked with younger boxers.
He is assisting Letz in running the event this year and excited for up-and-coming fighters to have their debuts.
“They’ve trained all through the summer, and then they can go show off what they’ve learned throughout the year,” said Egan, who attends Marist High School. “It’s super cool because it brings the neighborhood together. It’s a great event.”
Just as in past years, organizers will move the event inside St. Cajetan Memorial Hall if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
However, Letz is looking forward to another night under the stars. He would love to see the crowd continue to grow.
“Hopefully it just gets bigger and bigger,” he said.
Other boxers scheduled to compete include Brian and Pat Haran, of Oak Forest; Julian Burciaga, of Ashburn; Nick Manzke, of Oak Forest; Gabe Kenah, of Oak Lawn; Mike Remegi, of Beverly; Kevin Duggan, of Oak Lawn; Ethan Swanson, of Beecher; Aidan Flynn, of Morgan Park; Nick Toosley, of Morgan Park; Eric Ebenau, of Oak Lawn; Alex Sloan, of Oak Lawn; and Danny Ford, of Morgan Park.
For more information, call Dan Letz at (773) 433-0624 or Chuck Flynn at (708) 935-1535.