by Laura McCallister and Brad Stephens | August 16, 2012 – KCTV5: To put it mildly, the U.S. Men’s Olympic boxing team failed miserably in London. For the first time in the history of the men’s team, not a single boxer medalled. But maybe, just maybe a young Overland Park, KS, boxer will turn the tide when Brazil hosts the summer games in 2016.
It’s definitely a family affair when 21-year-old Matthew Anani is in a boxing ring. His mother, Sumya Anani is his trainer. So too is her long-time partner, Barry Becker, whom Matthew affectionately calls “dad.
“The hardest part is being family. They’re not only my mom and dad, my coaches. I work for Barry laying carpet. It’s a weird, sticky situation, but it makes us all closer because of boxing,” amateur boxer Matthew Anani said.
And although Matthew Anani only has a handful of amateur fights to his credit, he is already a two-time amateur champ.
“My first fight was in the Kansas City Golden Gloves tournament. I had back-to-back-to-back fights. I won all three of those. I was considered the Kansas City Middleweight Golden Gloves Champion,” he said.
For those who are wondering how Matthew’s mom knows so much about the sport, it’s because she was once the most feared woman in the ring and a four-time world boxing champion. KCTV5’s Brad Stephens shared her story in a June 2010 “Faces of Kansas City” segment explaining how she now devotes her passion to teaching yoga and spirituality.
Sumya Anani said she never pushed her son to box and was blown away when he finally decided to take it seriously.
“I was like ‘Wow! He’s really good.’ He hasn’t even scraped his potential – he could go all the way with this,” Sumya Anani said.
“I learn so much from watching her highlight DVDs, all her fights, her ferociousness. She kept coming and coming and I try to incorporate that into my fighting style,” Matthew Anani said.
His mom’s boxing career lasted 10 years and now Matthew Anani is at a crossroads of whether to turn pro or remain an amateur so that he could try to make the U.S. Olympic boxing team.
“That would be way cooler than a world championship, having a gold medal… to be able to represent your country would be amazing. I wanted to do it, women just fought for the first time this year,” Sumya Anani said.
“I’m just trying to keep up. She’s a four-time world champ. I’m a two-time amateur champ. I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Matthew Anani said of his mother.
As for what it’s like to watch her son fight, Sumya Anani said it scares her to death. She’s only recently began calming down somewhat when Matthew Anani is in the boxing ring.
Click here to read the Faces of Kansas City story on Sumya Anani.