RENO -- As a loan analyst for a mortgage company 20-year-old Stan Martyniouk is in the business of helping others realize the American Dream by assisting them in buying their homes.
As an up-and-coming amateur boxer Martyniouk is looking to make his own dreams come true and will take another step toward winning a gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, tonight when he takes on former Olympian Jong-Sub Baik of South Korea.
The 132-pound bout is one of 10 that will take place at the Eldorado Convention Center beginning at 6 p.m. Super heavyweight Mike Wilson will win by walkover because his opponent, Eu-Chan Jung, moved down to heavyweight to substitute for an injured teammate.
Currently ranked No. 5 in his weight class by USA Boxing, Martyniouk is coming off a third-round stoppage at the hands of Russia's Murat Khrachev, a bronze medal winner in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. The pair met July 14 in the AIBA World Cup, which was held in Moscow.
Martyniouk, who has a 44-11 amateur record, was born in Tallinn, Estonia, a nation that was part of the former Soviet Empire from 1940 until 1991, and moved to Antelope, Calif., a suburb of Sacramento, when he was 4.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Slavic, a former boxer, Martyniouk decided to try his luck in the squared circle.
"I grew up around gyms and when I was 13 or 14 I told him I wanted to give it a try," Martyniouk said Wednesday at the Jimmy Olivas-Nevada Boxing Gym. "It was fun. I liked it. After the first fight I knew it was something I wanted to pursue."
Martyniouk had other reasons for wanting to continue boxing - R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
"I lost my first fight," he said. "It was my first time getting in the newspaper. I wanted to come back and prove I could do it."
A winning streak soon followed and Martyniouk punched his way to the finals of the National Silver Gloves. Earning his United States citizenship in 2004 also opened up new doors for the transplanted Estonian and he was able to engage in open division matches.
"He's got the classic European style mixed with a little American style," Team USA coach Candy Lopez said of Martyniouk. "With his stand-up (European) style he relies on his jab to set up the right. His American style allows him more lateral movement so he can set up hooks and shots to the body and head. He's a smart kid. I expect good things from Stan. I see maturity. He has a cool, calm demeanor."
He's also not short on confidence.
"I think I've got speed and good head movement," Martyniouk said. "I'm part of the new generation, the new breed of fighters. I want to show I'm one of the best in the nation and the world pretty soon."
Martyniouk isn't alone. Teammates Marco Rangel (106 pounds), Aaron Alafa (112) and Brandon Gonzalez (178) are currently ranked No. 1 in the nation and David Clark (119), Richard Baltazar (125) and Edwin Rodriguez (165) are No. 2 in their respective weight divisions.
Rangel and Rodriguez have also won national championships earlier this year and Alafa and Austin Trout were Olympic team alternates last year.
Against South Korea the Americans will be giving up experience. In addition to Baik, Seok-Hwan Jo (125), Moo-Wan Hung (106) and Jung-Joo Kim (152) represented their country in Athens, with Jo and Kim taking home bronze medals.
Always in top condition the South Koreans are usually busy in the ring and stay on top of their opponents, but Lopez said he didn't think the electronic scoring system would necessarily favor his team's Asian opponents.
"(The Koreans) smother you. The judges don't score that way," Lopez said. "With the electronic scoring system you need time between punches so the official can see the effect. You want to sit down on your punches and be mobile enough to get out of the way of their shots. You need power, accuracy and patience. You need good hard shots in the right location. You need to obtain and maintain the lead."
And keep the American Dream alive.
USA VS. SOUTH KOREA
What: Ten-bout international amateur boxing card
Where: Eldorado Convention Center
When: Today. Doors open at 5 p.m. First bout begins at 6.
Tickets: $20. Available at the door, by calling (775) 786-5700 or by logging onto [ http://www.eldorado.com ]www.eldorado.com
106: Marco Rangel, Scottsdale, Ariz. vs. Moo-Won Hong
112: Aaron Alafa, Visalia, Calif. vs. Ok-Sung Lee
119: David Clark, Marquette, Mich. vs. Soon-Chul Han
125: Richard Baltazar, Lynwood, Calif. vs. Seok-Hwan Jo
132: Stan Martyniouk, Antelope, Calif. vs. Jong-Sub Baik
141: Willie Nelson, Cleveland, Ohio vs. Kwan-Soo Park
152: Austin Trout, Las Cruces, N.M. vs. Jung-Joo Kim
165: Edwin Rodriguez, Worcester, Mass. vs. Deok-Jin Cho
178: Brandon Gonzalez, Sacramento vs. Hak-Sung Song
201: Eric Fields, Ardmore, Okla. vs. Eu-Chan Jung
201+: Mike Wilson, Central Point, Ore.: walkover/no opponent