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Golden Gloves kicks off new season

A bloody Colter Diekman of Wadena holds his opponent in the corner. In his first fight ever, Diekman defeated St. Cloud's Jesse Formanek.

Shane Motschenbacher started his 19th year in winning form.

After a two-year hiatus to focus on hockey, the birthday boxer returned to the ring on Saturday at the Wadena Armory, where 12 fighters faced off during the Golden Gloves first card of the season. Motschenbacher, coached by Bob Tubandt, defeated St. Cloud's Anthony Lalim by unanimous decision.

"I've been training hard with Bob - practice, practice, practice - to be physically and mentally tough," Motschenbacher said after his victory in the 155 pound weight class.

He said he's glad to return to competition. "It's a lot of fun and the feeling afterward is priceless."

The main event featured Wadena's John Johnson losing a unanimous decision in the 135 pound division to Fergus Falls' Sergio Garcia, who won his final match before turning professional next month.

Tubandt called Garcia one of the best boxers in the Upper Midwest. The coach also praised the 19-year-old Johnson's performance. "John showed great improvement," Tubandt said. "He lost a close decision."

Johnson, a two-time defending region IV Golden Gloves champion, called Garcia

"a tough competitor."

"I landed a lot on him, his defense is stellar though," Johnson said. "I've fought a lot of people, but nobody's as fast as Sergio."

Two other Wadena boxers, Colter Diekman in the 185 pound weight class and Elliot Stall, a super heavyweight, won their first fights with split decisions.

"My main strategy was to go in with straight hands and see what he gives me," Diekman said. "It went well."

He said he's always liked boxing and wanted to try competing. At 32, Diekman launched his career with a victory over St. Cloud's Jesse Formanek.

In the 100 pound division Saturday, Matt Umland of Verndale beat Wadena's Tristin Powers by unanimous decision. Wadena's Joe Mench knocked out Matt Mason of Detroit Lakes in the first round of the 175 pound match.

Tubandt said he was pleased with his boxers' performances. "They showed good stuff," he said. "All the kids looked good."

For the next event on Jan. 11, he said, competitors will be in even better shape and there will be more fights. Several boxers dropped out of fights scheduled for Saturday just days in advance, leading to a shorter card than usual.

After the Jan. 11 fights, the Golden Gloves season continues with events at the Armory on Feb. 8 and March 1. Wadena will also host the region IV tournament March 28 and 29.