Loughran's Boxing & Jiu Jistu LLC will be holding the 2019 Trooper Jason VanHook USA Boxing Memorial Invitational at the London Community Center on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. Athletes from in and around the state will compete in memory of Jason Perry VanHook, a Kentucky State Police trooper who passed away in 2015.
This will be the second boxing competition put together by Loughran's Boxing. The previous was held last March with a surprising turnout of both audience and competitors.
"I think last time we had 16-18 bouts," said Jerry Loughran, owner of and coach at Loughran's Boxing. "Our goal is somewhere around there, no more than 20 bouts. We've got 30 scheduled, but with the attrition rates, 30 will go down to 20 in another week. We had close to 400 fans last time. I think we can go as many as 500. I think we may be sold out."
The upcoming competition will see athletes from Nashville, Indianapolis, Chatanooga, Knoxville, Cincinnati and Louisville. Several students of Loughran's Boxing will be participating, some of whom fought in the previous competition, with others preparing for their very first bout.
"We've been competing since our last show," said Loughran. "Most of these kids have been in the gym all summer long and most of them have boxed four times since that last show. If you hadn't seen our kids since March 2, when you see them now, they'll be lightyears beyond developmentally."
Kinnedy Hundley is one of these boxing vets. She'll face her third bout this Saturday.
"The first bout, I learned that conditioning is everything," said Hundley. "I also learned that you got to go in with aggression. You can't just go in and think 'I'm going to out box them,' especially against someone who's stronger. You got to go in and throw as fast as you can."
Annie Zheng, who attends the gym with her sister, Anna, will be facing her third bout as well.
"I learned to be more confident and not let other people get the best of me, which is what happened during my first bout," Annie said. "I've just got to show everything I've got within every minute in the bout. That's what boxing has taught me, and all-in-all, I've done better since. It's given me confidence."
"Never give up, because you will truly succeed if you keep trying," Hundley added. "I'm going to go in there and do my thing because that's what Jerry teaches us. I want to make the gym proud."
"I'm going to show better footwork, better fundamentals, better stance, better punches. Just show off everything because I've had more time to train. I want to win," said Annie.
"Ballistic" Bailey Lambert -- title given due to sustaining an accidental bullet wound in the foot prior to the March 2 competition -- talked about his strategy for his bout on Saturday.
"You got to be in the gym, do more conditioning. Conditioning helps where I don't get worn out by the second or third round," Lambert explained. I'm going to throw more punches to where they can't outscore me. Instead of just throwing one shot at a time, I'm going to, say, throw four, then get out. I'm just going to make the gym proud and make London proud."
"The Leslie County Assassin" Kincaide Couch has fought through two bouts in the past.
"I've learned to hit and not get hit. You need to have your defense up, and not just leave your arms open. I'd say I'll do just as good as I did last time. I lost my first bout, but I won my second one in one hit," said Couch.
Keston Kemper lost his first bout but has high hopes for his next.
"Hopefully I'll lose some weight to get a better opponent — for a fairer fight," said Kemper. "I hope to get stronger overall, through punching, exercising, push-ups, stuff like that. I expect to hopefully slip through, not get punched as much and keep my guard up, chin down."
Treyton Byerly was March 2's main event. The young athlete says the pressure doesn't bother him.
"It felt great being the main event. It was the first fight," said Byerly. "I just need to work on being more aggressive. I train harder every day. I condition, run, do push-ups, sit-ups. I just need to fight hard and go out there and try my hardest."
Loughran's first-time fighters are also looking forward to Saturday's competition.
"I want to just do my best and have fun with it," said Abigail Asher, who will be competing in her first bout. "I've been doing lots of conditioning and sparring. I'm working on being consistent."
"I'm feeling pretty nervous and pretty excited," added first-timer Waylon Deaton. "I've been training every day and working hard, two classes a day. My plan is to use my reach. Just punch whenever he's trying to get in so he can't get in. Keep the distance, try to punch him to where he can't punch you."
Tickets for the 2019 Trooper Jason VanHook USA Boxing Memorial Invitational are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. They can be purchased at Loughran's Boxing & Jiu Jistu LLC, located at 168 Shopping Center in London. They can also be purchased by calling at (859) 333-725 or (606) 312-4299. The London Community Center is on 529 South Main Street in London.