Abraham Nova introduces Albany to national boxing

Kyle Garrett, Staff Writer

Albany has not had a winner at the USA National Boxing Championships since Jo-el Scott in 1993, but on Jan. 25, 2013, the 141 pound, 20-year-old Albany native Abraham Nova  took the national title – and the highest honor in American amateur boxing – in a first round knockout of Oregon’s Efrain Estrada.

“I kept saying to myself, ‘I’m not going to leave the decision in the hands of the judges’,” said Nova, who is fresh from his first victory in international competition over the Dominican Republic’s Jackson Martinez.

“As soon as I saw a mistake, I capitalized on it, caught [Estrada] with a right hand, and the fight [was] over,” said Nova.

Nova’s victory puts him on the US National Team, alongside fellow Albany boxer Thomas Blumenfield, himself number two in the country at 108 pounds, making him the first seed to join America’s team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

This year, he will be traveling the world in a series of international bouts which will pave the way for 2016’s Olympic trials.

“I am looking to stick around [as an amateur] to get this international experience,” said Nova.

Nova credits much of where he is today to his family and his desire to do well by them.

“I always wanted to make my family proud, to put my family on the map, and let everyone know I have a great family,” said Nova.

Born in Puerto Rico, Nova moved to Albany at a young age and started boxing at six years old, playing with and learning the sport from a relative. This same relative took him to Albany’s Quail Street boxing gym, which is a free gym financed by the city. When Nova was twelve he began working with head coach Jerrick “Jerry” Jones and has been working with him ever since.

“There’s no one out there that has beaten me that’s taught me they’re better than me,” said Nova, who has never been knocked down or been stopped in his amateur career.

“[Working with Abraham Nova] is a pleasure,” said Jones. “He challenges me. He’s a kid who wants to be the best […] I just have to make sure I guide him the right way.”

Jones’ guidance, as with all of his fighters, involves teaching discipline, humility and self-respect as well as fighting skills, where he focuses on technical boxing and perfecting the fundamentals of the sport.

This emphasis on the basics has paid off.

Aside from Nova, Jones has turned out 14 Silver Gloves and Golden Gloves champions in his 28 years as a coach, and professionals like Kimdo Bethel and Amir Imam, who made appearances as alternates in past Olympic trials.

Preparing for the national championships and then for international competition, Nova ran three to four miles a day and then went to the gym to work on things like sparring, mitt drills and bag work.

Amateur boxing can be an expensive hobby and fighters often have to pay for travel and stay  to compete in national and international tournaments. Nova has relied on the support of his family to help with the costs of travel and competition.

“My family is a big help for me,” said Nova. “I’m trying to be a boxing historical figure. If I become successful, I’ll be able to financially help her [and] her ministry.”

Outside of boxing, Nova and his family periodically travel back to the Dominican Republic for charity purposes.

Nova also works at LA Boxing, another gym in the Albany area and has thought about enrolling in classes Hudson Valley but hasn’t had time to do so. Nova plans to stay in Albany regardless of wherever his career might take him.

“I want everyone to know [about] Albany,” he said, relating how nobody he’d spoken to at the national championships had heard of the city. “I think turning professional and sticking with Albany is really going to make it happen.”

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