Golden Gloves slugger

Destiny Small gains two state titles in amateur boxing
Thursday, April 12, 2018
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Courtesy photo

Destiny Small (center) poses Saturday in Salt Lake City with her coach Stewart Strever (left) and Kendra Reeves, her opponent at the Rocky Mountain Golden Gloves regional tournament. She was unable to defeat Reeves in the championship round, but will be competing in two weeks at the state Junior Olympics in Hamilton, Mont.

Back in October 2015, Destiny Small joined the Billings Elite Amateur Boxing club a month after her 16th birthday as the only female on the team, taking on male opponents to develop her stance, strategy and – according to her coach – “a wicked one-two” punch. In the years since, the club has taken on four more girls.

“She moves her head a lot and doesn’t get hit a lot,” said her coach Stewart Strever, a volunteer at the boxing club, which operates as a nonprofit. “She’s pretty aggressive. She comes at those girls when she fights them.”

Though Destiny lives outside Big Horn County, her grandfather is Henry Small of Lodge Grass and her late grandmother was Mary “Sona” Round Face of Pryor. As a Crow tribal member, Destiny also has competed in-county as a player at the Crow Reservation’s junior handgame tournaments.

To help cover her boxing expenses during the first year, according to an email from Destiny’s mother Hannah Small, her daughter set up a stand during the junior handgame matches.

“Since then, family and friends have noticed her interest and success in boxing,” Hannah continued, “and have supported her fundraisers and attended her boxing events.”

As a child, Destiny grew up hearing stories of Hannah’s late cousin/brother Dee Jay Round Face, who had been an amateur boxer and won a Montana State Golden Gloves championship title.

In addition to these stories, she found out it was rare for a female to compete in boxing. From that moment, Hannah stated, her daughter wanted to step into the ring.

“I also was dead set against it,” Hannah wrote. “But after some time and research, I gave in and prayed for the best for my daughter.

“We made a promise to each other that she always would give her 100 percent with school, work and boxing – and I would give her my 100 percent support.”

Now an 18-year-old junior at Billings Senior High School, Destiny punched her way to victory at the Montana State Golden Gloves tournament in Billings on March 24 for the 152-pound weight class. This was her second time taking first place at state; her last state Golden Gloves victory was in Fairview, Mont. in 2017, though she was unable to advance to regionals at that time due to funding issues.

According to Strever, Destiny was the first girl out of Montana to win a Golden Gloves championship, as it was the first year the state allowed females to box in that category.

Two weeks after state in the present year, she traveled to Salt Lake City for the Rocky Mountain Golden Gloves regional tournament, where she faced Kendra Reeves of Twin Falls, Idaho for the championship. Golden Gloves matches, Destiny said, are set for three rounds and three minutes each.

Destiny “held her own” in the fight, according to Hannah, but she was facing someone older than her with a “pretty built” physique. She was able slow Reeves down “quite a bit,” Strever said – catching her with jabs or one-two punches – but Reeves stayed true to her reputation of throwing upwards of 100 shots per round.

“It was a close decision,” Strever said, “and Destiny did really well.”

Though her daughter lost the match, Hannah said, she managed to pack a punch.

“The lady had a bruise on the bridge of her nose from the fight the night before,” she said, “and I think Des added to it.”

As for Reeves, who “fell in love with” boxing a year and a half ago when she tried it as part of a “weight loss journey,” facing Destiny in the ring was an enjoyable learning experience.

“She was definitely a good opponent, so it was a lot of fun,” Reeves said. “I look forward to seeing her again. That would be great.”

Had she defeated Reeves, Destiny would have advanced to the national Golden Gloves competition.

She isn’t down for the count yet, however, because – in two weeks – she will be competing in Hamilton, Montana at the state Junior Olympics on April 27 and 28. As with the Golden Gloves, Junior Olympics competitions start with state matches, followed by regionals and nationals.

This time, they run four minutes per round.