Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Former football player Lawal becomes boxing champ at Wing Open

By: FRANK SCHWAB
March 1, 2012
0
photo - Olawale Lawal, left, battles Joseph Okai in the heavyweight bout Thursday, March 1, 2012, at the 2012 Wing Open Championships at Air Force Academy. Lawai won on a referee's stop.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)  Photo by CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE
Olawale Lawal, left, battles Joseph Okai in the heavyweight bout Thursday, March 1, 2012, at the 2012 Wing Open Championships at Air Force Academy. Lawai won on a referee's stop. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) Photo by CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE 

When Wale Lawal decided to commit to competitive boxing, he said he was absolutely exhausted after his first time in the ring. That was just two months ago.

Photo Gallery

On Thursday night, Lawal was one of the most dominant fighters at the Wing Open championships, winning the heavyweight bout at a nearly full Clune Arena. The Wing Open is for any cadet to enter, and is an extension of the boxing class and intramural program.

Lawal used to play linebacker at Air Force, but he had to quit football after last year’s spring practice because of a balky knee. He seems to have found a new outlet for his competitive side.

“I started to develop really fast and it was like, ‘Man, I kind of like this,’” Lawal said. “It feels good.”

One of the other highlights of the night was Mike McLain, who won the 175-pound match to become the 12th four-time Wing Open champion in academy history.

The other winners were Roy Taylor (125 pounds), Andrew Munoz (132), Dan Starr (139), Glenn Miltenberg (147), Tyrus Korecki (156), Casey Habluetzel (165) and Logan Brandt (195). Drew Pineda (112) and Justin Zahn (119) won by walk-over, and Zac Spranger (185) won by medical forfeit. Miltenberg was given the Outstanding Boxer Award.

McLain didn’t have it easy. He and his opponent, Denis Vorobyov, put forth one of the most competitive matches of the night.

Vorobyov, who battled McLain in the finals last year as well, started the fight with a strong flurry of punches, and the action rarely slowed down after that. McLain outlasted him for the decision and his fourth title. He said he knew of Air Force’s boxing program when he decided to come to the academy, and he started thinking about becoming a four-time champion even when he was in high school.  

“It’s like a dream come true,” McLain said. “I’ve just always thought boxing kind of embodied what the academy is about.”

Lawal doesn’t have McLain’s experience, but it was tough to tell at the Wing Open. Lawal took the boxing class last spring, and was intrigued. He was around the football team as an assistant during last season, but when he came back from the holiday break one of his friends encouraged him to give boxing serious consideration.

“I was like, ‘I need to get in shape, so why not give it a try?’” Lawal said.  

Lawal threw some huge punches early in his Wing Open fight, and opponent Joseph Okai was given a standing-eight count in the first minute. When the fight resumed, Lawal continued to pummel Okai and the fight was stopped by the referee, 1 minute into the first round.

The winners in each weight class at the Wing Open will represent Air Force at the National Collegiate Boxing Association regionals March 22-24 in Reno, Nev. The top two in each weight class automatically qualify for the NCBA championships, which are at Clune Arena on April 5-7.

Contact Frank Schwab: 476-4891

Twitter @GazetteAirForce

Facebook Gazette Frank Schwab

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

Some news is free.
Exceptional journalism takes time, effort and your support.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.