By CLIFF CONNERSStaff WriterPLATTSBURGH — Boxing is a sport that hasn't really hit the North Country in the stomach — yet.Golden Gloves boxing trainer and event promoter Bob Miller hopes all that changes after Saturday night's Eastern New York Golden Gloves Finals at the Crete Civic Center.The event will begin at 7:30 p.m., and will feature nine local competitors under the tutelage of Miller."We want to get a good following and promote this thing," Miller said. "We have had events in places like Saratoga Springs, Averill Park and in Canada, but we have never had an event so close to home."Miller is a native of Altona and has been involved with the sport for more than 40 years. He has been involved with more than 40 professional boxers out of Canada, including six world contenders, and said he is personal friends with top promoters such as Don King.Miller has been pushing to get an event in Plattsburgh, but because of the lack of interest and training facilities, he hasn't been successful until now."Our downfall up here is the lack of training facilities," Miller said. "Without training facilities, there are no boxers, and with no boxers, there are no shows. This is an opportunity to get the ball rolling in the North Country, and hopefully the event will be the spark to make it happen."Miller's background is an indication that boxing is his No. 1 priority and has been for most of his life."I first got involved with the sport when I was 10 years old, and I boxed as a junior until I was 15," Miller said. "I joined the military and boxed in the service for two of the five years I was in."Then Miller ran into a snag and fell out of the boxing world for a short time."When I got out of the service, my first wife wasn't interested in the sport so I gave it up," Miller said. "I worked in the school system, and I wasn't around a boxing ring for a while."When we went our separate ways, I got right back into it. This time, though, as a coach and a trainer."That was in 1977. Thirty years later, Miller is still at it and is as fresh as he was the day he decided he wanted back into the sport."Boxing is my whole life," he said. "I am retired from the school system, and I enjoy every minute with these kids. These kids came to me. I didn't have to go find them. I owe it to them to make them as good as they can be and enjoy it as much as possible."Miller has been training area fighters for four years, but no one has been with him longer than Jaci Trivilino.Trivilino stands at 5-feet-4 and weighs 125 lbs. At the age of 24, she has 37 career fights and holds a record of 30-7.She was on Miller's first card three years ago and has been with him ever since. Miller hopes this weekend's event will give her a chance to shine."She has been at it the longest and has never gotten any recognition. She has fought out of Plattsburgh more than anyone and has been very successful," Miller said.Trivilino, who is originally from Ogdensburg but now lives Plattsburgh, has boxed in several Golden Gloves competitions around the area as well as some national events. She has state and regional championships under her belt and has fought top Canadian fighters."She is my most experienced boxer, and no one works as hard as she does," Miller said. "She has devoted herself to this and nothing seems to get in her way. She has a passion for it."Boxing was the last thing on Trivilino's mind for a lot of her life. One afternoon at a friend's house, however, changed everything."I was with a friend of a friend and they were really into boxing," Trivilino said. "It caught my eye, and I became interested but never pursued it."About six months later, I just decided to go for it. So I did."The decision to "go for it" may have been a decision that will change Trivilino's life forever. Her fierce competitiveness and passion to be the best may bring her to the place she dreams of — the top."Whenever I step into the ring, I am in there to win," she said. "I want to fight and beat the top boxers. I want to be the best I can be and take it to the next level."In addition to Trivilino, Miller has been working with eight other fighters.Sam Moura and Mike Pryor are the only others who have ring experience.Moura has been boxing for two years. The 28-year-old from the Philippines has a 3-4 record in seven fights. He is coming off a victory in a preliminary match and is looking for a second straight win.Pryor is a student at Plattsburgh State and has been training with Miller since October. He started boxing 10 months ago in Saratoga, and this will be his first fight in the area.Pryor has three previous fights and is a perfect 3-0, including a preliminary-round win in his last fight.Other fighters include Brian Cookey, Rocco Clauss, Dan Novello, Frank Chamberlain and Justin White. All five will be making their first appearances in the ring.Clauss is a Plattsburgh native and an aspiring professional ski racer and came to Miller to use the boxing training as cross-training for racing.Now, Clauss has taken a liking to it."I really like it now," he said. "It's so much fun. I have been training now for six months, and Bob has been the best coach I have had for anything. I can't wait for this."The only boxer left isn't someone you wouldn't walk by and expect he was a boxer.Ten-year-old Zack Morey, also from Plattsburgh, will step into the ring for his third contest.Morey has been in two previous bouts, but has come up short in both — once because of sickness. Morey's father, Greg, was a boxer his whole life, but never mentioned anything about boxing to Zack."He liked it and wanted to do it on his own," Greg Morey said. "He is still a little shy in front of a large crowd. If you bring home to our house for a match he would be 'King of the World.' "Miller thinks his group should do well this weekend."We should win about three-quarters of our matches," he said. "Hopefully we can get a good turnout and get boxing headed in the right direction up here."FightersBrian Clookey, heavyweightMike Pryor, Greenwich, 5'11, 150.Sam Moura, Philippines, 5'4, 140.Rocco Clauss, Plattsburgh, 5'6, 128.Jaci Trivilino, Plattsburgh, 5'4, 125.Justin White, N/AZach Morey, Plattsburgh, 4'7, 55.
Dan Novello, Suffolk 6'0, 178.Frank Chamberlain, Plattsburgh 5'5, 141.