Family traditions run deep at K.O. Drugs

CAMPBELL – Sam Fasline, a Navy veteran, avid runner and native of Youngstown’s West Side, earned a perfect record as an amateur boxer in the 1940’s.

“Yeah,” Fasline said with a grin at the K.O. Drugs Boxing Tournament on Monday, “a perfect 0-9.”

The 87-year old began when he was 16 and practiced boxing while part of a battalion in Guantanamo Bay. Fasline sat ringside at St. Lucy’s Palermo Center, cheering on all 36 participants, but his clear favorite was a 15-year old Hubbard High freshman – Mikey Fasline, his great-nephew.

“He’s in pretty good shape for a little guy,” Sam said.

Mikey defeated Robbie Elmakbah in his first organized fight at the bantamweight division.

“I was fine preparing and getting ready for it,” Mikey said. “I had a little bit of nerves when I stepped into the ropes with all the lights. Even though it’s a small hall, it feels like the big time.”

He goes to a gym four days a week and runs on the weekends, while training with Sam Calderone on the East Side of Youngstown, at the Southside Boxing Club in Youngstown and Burnside Boxing in Struthers.

“I can’t thank the guys enough for working with me,” Mikey said.

Mikey’s 22-year old brother, Frankie, practiced jiu-jitsu. His grandfather, Frank, was a pick-up boxer decades ago, too.

“He’s the one that really introduced me to it,” Mikey said. “He wasn’t here tonight, though; he’s scared for me a bit. You know how grandparents are.”

Family was the main theme during the second round of competition at the 25th annual tournament.

Struthers senior Jonah Ortiz dedicated his junior middleweight win over Daniel Day to his father who is incarcerated on a life sentence. Ortiz has boxed for a year and a half and fell to Neshanock’s Chris Pagley in the first round on May 6.

“That really lit a fire under me,” Ortiz said. “I really had to win this for my dad. He’s been there for me and won’t see me graduate in a few weeks. I promised that I’d get a win for him.”

Jackson-Milton sophomore Colten Nitzsky earned a win in his first-ever bout. He wore down Ben Simpson of Newton Falls to earn a unanimous decision at the heavyweight class.

“Actually, I don’t really know what I was trying to,” Nitzsky said, laughing. “I just went out there and tried my best”

Sam Fasline recalled his days in the rings when fights went 12 rounds and lasted three minutes each. At the K.O. Drugs tournament, there are three, 45-second rounds.

“If you’re not conditioned very well it could be a really long time,” Nitzsky said. “I’m in pretty good shape for 215 pounds and have good endurance, so I think it went by fast.”

Tyreek Daniels of Hubbard earned the quickest win of the evening with a TKO of J.R Guzaski in just 15 seconds.

“I was really disapointed because I wanted it to go all three,” Daniels said. “I just had two good punches early.”

Lakeview’s Jesse Burkey beat South Range’s Joey Phillips in the night’s final bout with a second round TKO.

“The first round kind of went back and forth so I regrouped and came out in the second and paid attention to where he swings and punching right down the pike,” Burkey said.

Other local winners were Liberty’s Devan Trehorn, Fitch’s Austin Stevens, Canfield’s Aaron Jenkins, Niles’ Josh Mango and Struthers’ Mike Sullivan. The tournament’s final round takes place on Monday, June 3.