The two trainers have been devising an amateur fight card in this dark and dingy enclave, surrounded by their prospects, who sparred and pummeled a heavy bag.

The two men are like contenders, fighting to revive a sport whose popularity has waned in the Twin Cities. The sport has had trouble absorbing knockout blows from Mixed Martial Arts, which continues to draw crowds at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Cugno is looking to jump start boxing with a 12- to 15-card event Saturday night at 6 p.m., at Longley Elementary School, across Birch street from the Colisee.

Local fighters who will get their turn in the ring include Achelas Ankers Sierra Frost, a 2012 Silver Mitten Champion, Isaac Escobar, a runner-up in the 2014 Silver Mittens, Robert Hetherman, Nick Spencer, Ramon Saintvil, Alex Clark, Jeffrey Gamache (Joe Gamache’s grandson), Alex Clark (also an MMA fighter), and Joe Sullivan.

Gamache’s protege doesn’t believe boxing is a hard sell, and the sport doesn’t have to take a backseat to MMA.

Cugno also wants to showcase his current crop of pugilists before hometown fans, even though MMA is still the hottest action in town.

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“It is a whole different sport,” Cugno said. “A lot of people still like the sweet science of boxing. It’s more like a chess match than a street fight, so there are two totally different fight styles.

The ex-prize fighter, who was sporting a 7-3 record before he was forced step out of the ring for good when he broke his hip, believes there are many fans who enjoy “old school boxing.”

“A lot of MMA fighters come to me and want to try boxing,” Cugno said. “It is harder to get the knockout in boxing.

“Like I said, I am trying to get my guys out there. There is nothing going on here in Lewiston/Auburn.” Cugno added. “I have a lot of guys coming up, and I have to keep them busy. I don’t want to keep bringing them to New Hampshire and Rhode Island all the time (to fight). I want them to fight in their hometown.”

“I am trying to get the middle ground so they will bring their fighters to my shows and I bring my fighters to their shows. We will keep (boxing) going Maine.”

Through the years

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Gamache has been assisting Cugno — who has worked with the elder Gamache for 23 years — with this promotion. But after this event, Gamache will be calling it quits and passing the torch to his good friend. The venerable trainer will continue oversee fighters at the Gamache Boxing Club at the Armory.

“I’ve been at this 35 to 37 years. The only thing I want to do is be in the gym with fighters,” Gamache said. “I don’t need the hassle with this new commission. I don’t want the hassle with them.”

Gamache said Cugno is the right man to bring back boxing in this area.

“First thing, Glenn is the nicest young man I have ever known, got a heart of gold, works all the time with the fighters,” Gamache said. “You know this guy only gets a couple of hours of sleep a night. He is a mechanic — a darn good mechanic.

“He’s just a great guy. He fought on many of Joey’s shows, had quiet a few amateur fights and he is sweetheart with all the fighters.”

Gamache is hoping fans will give Cugno and his talented boxers a fighting chance and come out to support the event.

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“We need the people to support us Saturday night, because there won’t be boxing for hell of a long time,” Gamache said.

He will no longer be promoting fights, but Gamache will still keep himself busy at his gym and by a lake.

“I love being down there because I am a wise guy,” Gamache, 77, said. “I love to tease and joke with everybody. It is a comedy act, but we really do train our fighters hard.”

“Right now, I am just happy enough to come here periodically. Besides, I want to do some fishing this year.”


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