WED, 3/30

Not since Mike Tyson's psychosis-driven title fights battered the public consciousness a decade ago has the sport of boxing staged such a ruthless assault on society. Between this year's Academy Award-winning knockout Million Dollar Baby and NBC's new reality hit, The Contender, the so-called sweet science appears to be making a comeback.

Those seeking an up-close look at the phenomenon should get themselves ringside seats at the Colorado State Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament, which starts tonight. Thirty-one teams of up-and-coming fighters from around the state, ranging in age from thirteen to 34, will converge to settle the debate about who is the toughest. The site of this slugfest is the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street, which will host the four-day-long state tournament. The contest begins at 6 p.m. with preliminary bouts for this weekend's finals. "People don't always realize that the prelims are sometimes the best fights of the tournament," says organizer Jesse Mora.

Promoters have included different classifications for ability, size and gender -- in part because of the Million Dollar-style popularity of women's boxing. Still, the goal is not to unleash real-life Hillary Swank characters. While previous Golden Gloves showdowns have launched some professionals here -- most notably Ron Lyle, who's now running the Red Shield Community Center's team; his career included a 1975 title fight against Muhammad Ali -- that's not the primary goal.

"We are not necessarily trying to make them into professionals," says organizer Jesse Mora. "We want them to learn respect, discipline and to excel in life beyond school."

For tickets, $8 to $10, call 303-297-1166. -- Cub Buenning

She Shoots, She Scores
The USA girls' hockey finals skate into town.
WED, 3/30

The NHL season is dead, leaving hockey fans at a loss during what would typically be the playoff season. Puckheads have to find comfort elsewhere, and this year Colorado is in luck, because the 2005 USA Hockey Girls' National Championships start today and continue through Saturday, April 2, in Centennial. Players range in age from "twelve and under" to nineteen.

This isn't anything like the recreational sport played on backyard ponds. Tournament chairwoman Jane Webster says that while there isn't any checking allowed during matches, "it's some of the best hockey there is." And with clubs traveling from all over the country, there will be a wide variety of styles and strategies on the ice. The tournament also features six Colorado teams, representing all age groups. The pucks will drop at the Family Sports Center Ice Arena, 6901 South Peoria Street, and the South Suburban Ice Arena, 6580 South Vine Street. Tickets, $10 for adults and $5 for kids fifteen and under, are available at the door. For information, log on to www.coloradogirlshockey.com. -- Corey Helland

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Cub Buenning
Corey Helland

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