Webster wins Southern Golden Gloves title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

When Anthony Webster was younger, his constant energy and loud voice earned him the nickname “Amplifier” from his family.

Thereafter, it was shortened to “Amp.” The young boxer is now hoping the national impact he makes will be heard all the way back in Selma.

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Webster won the Southern Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions this past weekend in Knoxville, Tenn., by defeating fellow superheavyweights Jerry Vaughn of Knoxville Friday and Jessie Peterson of Chattanooga Saturday in unanimous decisions.

“They already had a heavyweight (Peterson) picked to win, so I pulled a real upset on that one,” Webster said. “He had never seen me before, and I won a 5-0 decision.”

Webster can earn an automatic invitation to the United States Olympic trials by winning or placing second in the U.S. qualifier this weekend, to be held the week before the Golden Gloves National Tournament.

He is currently in Knoxville training and sparring with Alonzo Butler, a professional who is 26-0 and a national top-20 heavyweight.

Although Webster looked good in the Southern tournament, he needs more work.

“He’s very young; he doesn’t have a lot of fights,” said David Godber, a Birmingham-based coach who accompanied Webster to Knoxville this past weekend. “He’s going to see a lot of guys with a lot of experience. His chances are fair, but he’s going to have his hands full.”

Godber said of the 18-year-old Webster that his main advantage is exceptional quickness for a 250-pound fighter. But maturity will bring the type of power he lacks in his punches.

Webster, who has trained at the United Way’s Selma Youth Development Center since he was 8, is now training in the same place that produced Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr.

“I’m very proud of Amp,” SYDC director Frank Hardy said. “When I see kids excelling like this, it reconfirms my belief that any time you put in time with a child, it pays off. You may not always get what so many people look for – immediate gratification. But time put in is never lost. I thank everyone who contributed to this young man being a success.”

Webster is not the first boxer from Selma to have this opportunity, but he’s determined to make the most of the chance.

“We’ve had some real good fighters come out of Selma,” he said. “They either gave it up or got here and lost. It feels good knowing I can take care of my mom and sister. Knowing they won’t have anything to worry about – that’s what motivates me.”