2009 Golden Gloves Champion
From Tommy Loughran to Joey Giardello through Joe Frazier to Bernard Hopkins, Philadelphia has always boasted a fighting spirit. Philly has always loved its fighters – even the hometown baseball team is just as popularly known as “The Fightin’ Phils.”
2009 US Golden Gloves and US National Light Flyweight Champion Miguel Cartagena was born in Philadelphia on July 5, 1992. His father Jose, a boxing fan, suggested the sport to his son when Miguel was just seven. Growing up in a city with such a strong history of boxing, Cartagena eventually settled in as a member of the Philly Rumblers Boxing Club, out of North Philadelphia, where he been trained for the past several years by Rumblers’ coach Javier Varela. “If you want to be a Philly Rumbler, you gotta be tough,” explains Varela. “We can’t teach heart here.”
But they can teach boxing at the Club, and Cartagena has proved to be one of the Rumblers’ most successful students. This past May, he defeated a series of older and more experienced boxers to win the US National Golden Gloves Light Flyweight (106 lbs./48 kg) championship in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cartagena was just sixteen years old. He was still only sixteen when he entered the 2009 US National Championships at the Denver (CO) Coliseum as an unseeded contestant this past June. Once again fighting a gamut of older and more experienced opponents (including a US Army 2nd Lieutenant), Cartagena won the 2009 US National Championship for his weight class.
Cartagena not only claimed back to back national championships with these victories: He became the first sixteen year old to win both the Golden Gloves and US National Championships since 2005. For these accomplishments, Cartagena was spotlighted as the “High School Video Face of the Week” in the July 27, 2009, issue of Sports Illustrated.
“Miguel’s two national titles represent Philadelphia’s great boxing heritage,” said Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame Director of Operations Bob Cassidy when announcing the 2009 Pride of Philadelphia winners.
This past September, Cartagena won his first fight in the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) world championships in Milan, Italy, but lost the decision in his second bout, during which he broke his thumb.
Miguel Cartagena has just entered his junior year at Stephen Douglas High School in Philadelphia. Even while his amateur boxing career continues to blossom, he is already contemplating his professional options after he hangs up his gloves. “What I’d really like is to go to college and become a veterinarian. I love animals,” he told the Philadelphia Daily News. “And I’d like to think I won’t have to get punched in the face to make a decent living.