boxing, fight, Golden Gloves
From left: Emmanuel Martinez, Gianmarco Marin, Al-Abed Taha and Hussein Harb in front of State of Fitness Boxing Club. (Photo by Josh Passaretti)

State of Fitness boxers fight for chance at hometown Golden Gloves finale

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. -- Three of Hudson County’s toughest will be in action this weekend as boxers from North Bergen’s State of Fitness Boxing Club gear up for the New Jersey Golden Gloves semifinals on June 17 and 18.

Hussein Harb of West New York, plus Gianmarco Marin and Al-Abed Taha of North Bergen are expected to fight in the two-night semifinals at True Warriors Boxing Club in Paterson, N.J. 

Victories will earn them a chance to shine in front of their hometown supporters when the tournament concludes at the North Bergen Recreation Center on June 24 and 25.

Both Marin (156-pound novice) and Harb (165-pound novice) are in the final three of their weight classes, and will be in attendance for the weight class draw at Friday’s show. Given that the novice tournaments are double elimination, they could fight on both Friday and Saturday.

Harb, who won N.J. Diamond Gloves titles in 2019 and 2021, is motivated by the dream of winning the state’s biggest amateur title at a venue that is walking distance from his home.

“It would be a big blessing to fight for the championship in my hometown, with all my loved ones and family members in attendance,” said Harb, 28, who excelled in cross country and track and field at Memorial High School and Bloomfield College.

“We fight with the spirit of former heavyweight champion James Braddock, who also fought out of North Bergen. Winning the title in our neighborhood would make all the blood, sweat and tears worth it.”

Marin, 20, first demonstrated his toughness on the football field as an offensive lineman for the North Bergen Bruins. He has brought that grit to the boxing ring as well, and is riding high off two straight wins coming into the tournament.

Taha (176-pound novice) will fight on Saturday’s show in Paterson against an opponent to be determined.

Taha, 23, first showed his athletic prowess as a standout wrestler for the North Bergen Bruins before winning the 2019 Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association national championship at 158 pounds. Taha has been undefeated since switching to boxing, making it to the 2020 Golden Gloves semifinals before the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now ,Taha splits his time as an officer for the North Bergen Police Department.

A fourth boxer, 147-pound sub novice boxer Emmanuel Martinez, was eliminated earlier in the tournament.

State of Fitness Boxing Club, located at 508 73rd Street in North Bergen, will also be represented by coaches Mike Pacheco, Ryan Songalia and Desmond Boyle, the latter of whom is the gym’s owner.

State of Fitness Boxing Club is the most decorated boxing gym in North Bergen, having produced numerous champions in tournaments like the Diamond Gloves and Golden Gloves. The gym was also one of the chief sponsors for the unveiling of the James J. Braddock Statue in 2018, and had donated their original ring canvas to the statue, which now rests at Braddock’s feet.

“We’ve been building champions since the gym opened in 2016, and have been committed to carrying on North Bergen’s rich tradition of boxing history,” said Boyle, who is also the senior firefighter for the North Hudson Regional Fire Department. 

“First we have to get the victories this weekend. But we look forward to inspiring our community by fighting for the Golden Gloves titles in our hometown.”