Casey Costanzo, Mikiah Kreps and Emily Cooper are determined to show the country they are simply the best.
They will find out shortly just where they stand in the national female boxing scene as the three will test their in-ring skills at the Women’s Golden Gloves National Tournament, which runs Monday through July 12 with first bouts scheduled for Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The trio will represent USA Boxing’s Niagara Region. The tournament is expected to attract more than 2,000 participants. The only requirement for participating is being a member of USA Boxing.
All three train at Casal’s School of Fighting Arts in Niagara Falls, which recently had more than 450 people attend a chicken dinner fundraiser to help send the three and other amateur club fighters to various national events this summer.
“Mikiah and Casey, they’ll get to the finals. They know how to fight,” said Buffalo Boxing Ring 44 Hall of Fame trainer Ray Casal. “I think with Emily, if she gets mad she’ll win.”
Costanzo, 23, started boxing 12 years ago. She fought in Junior Olympic Nationals six years ago before taking a five-year break. She has been training for the past six months. Pro welterweight Nick Casal has been among her sparring partners.
“I’m excited to do it again,” Costanzo said. “There are so many more girls involved now so it’s cool because when I did it when I was younger I fought the same person every weekend.”
Costanzo, a two-time state Golden Gloves champion as a teen, will fight at either 125 pounds or 132 at the Gloves. Her expectations: “Just do good, fight every night and win,” she said.
The 141-pound Kreps comes from a good boxing pedigree. Her great-grandfather Frank Egan fought professionally. Her mother/coach Deb won three state Golden Gloves titles and three Empire States Games gold medals.
Motherhood and a full-time job prevented Deb from making a run at qualifying for a national tournament but she’ll now get to experience such an event through her daughter.
“I’m still living my dream of being a fighter through her,” said Deb of the 17-year-old Mikiah who has been training since age 5.
“I’m really excited,” said the 141-pound Mikiah, who is 18-4. The harder the match, “the better for me because I feel nobody’s training as hard as I am.”
Cooper, 11, will make her debut at 152 pounds in the Golden Girls youth portion of the national tournament. She has been training in the sport for a year.
“It makes me really proud to go to nationals and represent my club there,” Cooper said.
“Ever since I started sparring I knew I wanted to fight. ... I’m not nervous. I’m going there to win.”