Back in the ring

MARQUETTE – Memories of the now-defunct U.S. Olympic Education Center boxing program will no doubt flow this weekend in Marquette.

Today through Sunday morning, former USOEC boxing coach Al Mitchell (1989-2009) expects some 85 guests to attend a reunion of some of the center’s top boxing alumni.

“We could have had more (attend), but many have fights or summer boxing schools, or whatever,” he said Thursday. “Those coming can’t wait to get here (though).”

Some of the former USOEC boxers Mitchell expects to take part in the reunion are 1996 Olympic gold medalist David Reid, Dana Rucker, Anthony Steward, brothers Teaunce and LeChance Shepherd, and former USOEC assistant coach Larry Nicholson.

Mikaela Mayer, currently being trained by Mitchell, will attend the reunion Friday, he said.

“She has to fly out Saturday for meetings with USA boxing officials,” Mitchell, 70, said.

He said he didn’t actively set the wheels in motion for the reunion.

“I have a Facebook site and a lot of my athletes talked to me about having a reunion,” said Mitchell, the 1996 USA Olympic boxing head coach and 2004 USA Olympic technical adviser. “I could never get a good date for everyone (until now).

“It has all come about through word of mouth and Facebook.”

He added many of the former boxers plan to stay in Meyland Hall on the Northern Michigan University campus, just like the USOEC days.

Some former USOEC officials are also expected to attend the reunion, including Dave Lutz, Tracy O’Rourke, Bill Bergin and Jeff Kleinschmidt.

Mitchell has a gym located on Furnace Street in Marquette and has spent the last five years running the Chinese boxing program.

“They want me to be the Olympic coach for their women’s team,” he said.

Mitchell is taking a break from his Chinese duties now, but he and his former USOEC athletes will be busy this weekend.

The reunion schedule, according to Mitchell:

Today: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Holiday Inn, review boxing tapes and see a PowerPoint production.

Saturday: 9:30 a.m., tour of the Superior Dome and Meyland Hall; 11 a.m.-1 p.m., lunch at the NMU cafeteria; 2:30-3:30 p.m., memorial service at Picnic Rocks for former USOEC boxers Vernon Forrest, Larry Nunnally and Omar Henry; 4:30-8 p.m., barbecue at Lakeview Arena; 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m., Holiday Inn, dance and social.

Sunday: 8 or 9 a.m., breakfast at NMU cafeteria.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.