The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

April 23, 2011

Cook brothers prepare for third national Golden Gloves appearance

The Cook brothers will have new roles in the National Golden Gloves boxing tournament this week.

They’re no longer the new guys. Now they’re the veterans, both five-time Kansas City Golden Gloves champions, both qualified for nationals for the third time, as open division winners.

Older brother Jesse Cook understands the value of that experience.

“The first time, I fought a guy I think I should have been able to beat,” he said. “I psyched myself out. There’s a lot of competition at nationals and I think I beat myself before I got in (the ring) the two times I went.”

Now it’s time, both Jesse and Dillon Cook seem to believe, for that experience to begin paying off.

The brothers from Seneca are making it a family affair with their dad Dallas, who is coaching the Kansas City team at nationals, in their corner. The national boxing tournament begins Monday at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

Jesse Cook won the regional 165-pound title. He decisioned Cesar Angeles of Kansas City in the championship bout and was named the most outstanding boxer in the Kansas City tournament.

Dillon Cook, 20, won the 152-pound title with a hard-fought decision over McKinley Hopkins of Topeka, Kan., his third fight of the regional.

The Cooks will enter nationals fresh, with a week’s break since fighting in Kansas City. They’re also both returning to the ring with new vigor after time spent away from the sport. Jesse was out of boxing for three years. Dillon stepped away for six months.

“I did it every day for so long, I think I needed to get away,” Jesse said. “I had my first fight in October, 1995 (as an 8-year-old). ... It was hard to watch my brother and other people fight and not do it myself.”

The decision to return was simple. He missed fighting.

“I’m 24 now,” he said. “I didn’t want to have any regrets later.”

About the time Jesse returned to the ring seriously, Dillon stepped away briefly.

Dillon Cook won a Heartland Regional title a year ago to qualify for the national amateur championships in Colorado Springs, Colo. Then when Dillon took time off this past winter, Jesse had returned to the ring and won a Heartland title, qualifying for the nationals in June.

First, the brothers will both fight in Indianapolis. And while it’s the third trip to nationals for each, it’s the first time they have gone together.

The brothers spend a lot of time together now. They train together. They encourage each other. And there’s no hint of even a friendly rivalry. That is by design, their father said.

“When they first started sparring, that brotherly love thing would kind of kick in,” Dallas Cook said. “It’s hard to find good sparring partners and so they need each other.

“I told them if they learned to work with each other and don’t get mad, they are the best there is for each other. ... They work well together. They get along more like friends (than bickering brothers).”

Agreed Dillon Cook: “When we’re sparring, we go hard. But there’s no tension between us. We’re supportive of each other.”

The Cook family leaves for Indianapolis today and should learn first-round opponents by late Monday.

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