More than 75 boxers will descend on Lawrence today for the Ringside National Native American Boxing Championships at Coffin Sports Complex on the campus of Haskell Indian Nations University.
It's the first time the championships have been held in Kansas, and Slick Revere, one of the event's organizers, said he hoped the event was here to stay.
"I figure Lawrence, Kansas, is centrally located in the United States, so it would be more enticing for them to be able to come here and box every year," he said. "The ones I've talked with are pretty enthused about getting a fixed mileage every year, so if we keep it here they could compete.
"I took the consensus last year when we didn't have very many show up in Michigan and figured it was a good idea to get a fixed mileage so they can set budget around it. Hopefully, this is just the beginning, and we can get more tribes involved in the future."
Only about 40 boxers attended last year's championships in Traverse City, Mich. Revere said changing host sites every year was a primary cause of low turnout.
That number should be doubled in 2004. The championships begin at 6 tonight, and continue Friday and Saturday evening.
Revere, who coached the HINU boxing club from 1971 to 1983 before it was disbanded by the university president, said his goal was 100 boxers this year and even more in the years to come. That number could be possible, he said, if the sport was promoted correctly and the championships found a permanent home.
Haskell reinstated its boxing club earlier this year and already boasts more than 20 members. It's not quite at the level where Revere had it when HINU captured the team trophy for the 1978 Regional Indian Boxing Tournament, but a strong showing this weekend could spark more interest in the program.
The championships offer 12 weight classes for male and female pugilists age 8-35. A master's division also will be offered for older boxers.