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Boxing: Strauss protege claims crown

Martincic hits hard in Golden Gloves win

Sunday, April 13, 2003

By Chuck Finder, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Maybe it wasn't so much that a former Steelers lineman and boxer/martial arts competitor, Craig Wolfley, sat in his corner. Maybe it wasn't so much that an Eastern Regionals boxing champion, Robbie Strauss, also worked his corner and helped counsel him last night.

No, where Jarred Martincic most likely started his path to his Western Pennsylvania Golden Gloves championship was in a ring against the Brothers Strauss, Robbie and Mike, who preceded their sparring partner -- or is it sparring victim? -- with their own titles this weekend at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

"They've been beating up on me every day for more than a year," Martincic, 22, said after beating up Anthony Attalla of Bizzaro's Boxing Club in Erie, winning by decision the subnovice 178-pound division. "I think the last fight they announced me as Rob's 'punching bag.' "

They toil together at the Bridgeville Martial Arts & Sports Center run by Wolfley and his wife, Faith. Martincic credited the Wolfleys and the Brothers Strauss with helping him, especially after he lost his inaugural amateur fight in November and went back to work with them for the Golden Gloves. Admitted Robbie, the elder of the Mt. Lebanon brothers at 23 and the heavier at 165: "We pound on that kid every day."

Martincic, of Upper St. Clair, apparently gives as good as he gets. He bloodied the nose and face of Atalla, a game fighter who didn't relent even after referee Ernie Shareef stopped the fight in the third round so Atalla's corner and fight doctor could attend to him. "Usually, they go down," Martincic, a CCAC student, said of his previous three opponents, all won by knockout. "I hit him pretty well a couple of times."

Martincic, like the rest of the regional champions, advanced to the state competition that concludes May 10 in the convention center.

Robbie Strauss officially won his open 165 title by walkover, his foe opting not to show last night. "Friday night was my championship," he said of a decision against Rocky Rhodes of Helman's. Perhaps the forfeit was a wise choice, because this Strauss brother was voted the tournament's most outstanding boxer. In early March, he displayed his wares on a national stage by winning his Eastern Regionals division and advancing to the U.S. Championships two weeks ago in Colorado Springs, Colo. He lost in the second round, same as former 132-pound national champion Verquan Kimbrough of Aliquippa.

Brother Mike Strauss, 19, earned the open 141 title Friday with a decision against South Park's Matt Jellison, a tough boxer with whom he split two previous bouts. "That was like the rubber match," Mike Strauss said.

Winners in the other Friday finals included Seth Bartmas of the Butler Cubs at subnovice 132, Scott Lewandowski of 3rd Avenue Gym at subnovice 141, Frank Wittenburg of Helman's at subnovice 201-plus, Jesse Sheaffer of Brookline at subnovice 152 and Dustin Mihalek of South Park in the open 152.

In nonaction last night, there were four winners by walkover: Rocco Tettis of Ridgway in open 178, Krystal Krauchak of the Butler Cubs in female 110, Amber Daughenbaugh of the Renegades in female 119 and Tiffany Rice of the 3rd Avenue Gym in female 125. However, Daughenbaugh fought Krauchak and Rice in exhibitions only minutes apart. And Leslee Perella of Carrick won a decision against Heather McQuaid of 3rd Avenue Gym in another exhibition even though they were already the female masters 119 and 132 champions. Mike Sante of Imperial took the subnovice 125 title with a second-round referee's stoppage in his fight against Shane Gallager of the Meadville Renegades. James Neiport of Carrick won the subnovice 201 trophy with a thudding decision against Octavio Araujo of the Renegades. Ryan Covert of the Butler Cubs won the novice 178 when his match with Glenn Baroni of Imperial was stopped in the second round.

Paul Spadafora, the IBF lightweight champion made an appearance at the fight, which was attended by roughly 500 patrons. Before the bouts, state Rep. Michael Diven, D-Brookline, former county council president James Simms and City Councilman Alan Hertzberg presented a $50,000 check to the local Police Athletic League.

Chuck Finder can be reached at cfinder@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1724.

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