Dexter dairy farmer brings home some Golden Gloves


Dexter resident Zeke Breuninger at left. photo by Ryan Abasso

Dexter resident Zeke Breuninger took home gold in this year’s Metro Detroit Golden Gloves competition.

After a tough showing the first time round last year, Breuninger worked hard to again get back to and compete in the 2022 Metro Detroit Golden Gloves competition last month. His work and commitment paid off after he took home gold in the men’s 156 pound novice final.

The Sun Times News (STN) reached out to him after hearing this great local news and asked him how it felt to win this.

“It feels rewarding,” he said. “My last boxing match was in the same tournament a year ago. I lost and got knocked out of the tournament, so it feels good to win both my matches and weight class this year after not placing last year.”

The tournament spanned over two weekends in July, the 16th and 17th, and also the 23rd and 24th. Breuninger said competitors had to win in the first weekend in order to advance to the finals the second weekend.

To move along he had to knock off Alex Curtis of New Way Martial Arts on the 17th, and then Cole VanCollie of New Way Martial Arts on Sunday the 24th to take home the men’s 156lb title. He said he won both matches via unanimous decision.

STN asked him about getting to this point.

“I had my first fight in April of 2021, it was an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fight in Tennessee and I won via first round submission,” Breuninger said looking back. “I’ve had seven fights since then, my last two being the boxing matches in Detroit. There was a learning curve at first, but I feel confident and more comfortable every time I step into the ring or cage to compete. I grew up wrestling, so one on one competition isn’t foreign to me. I don’t know any of my opponents personally before a fight, but afterwards there is a sense of camaraderie.”

Breuninger trains out of Counter Punch gym under Maksim Ivanov in Ann Arbor. His amateur boxing record is now 2-2 while he’s also 3-1 in amateur MMA.

Life outside of the ring sees him working on his family’s dairy farm in Dexter. He said it has been in his family for over 100 years and he is the fifth generation.

“We milk 240 cows,” he said. “After working I head to practice, or I get a practice in before work in the morning.”

He’s been training consistently for three years, and he grew up wrestling. In preparing for his matches, he said he’s been boxing practice four times a week, and strength and conditioning twice a week. He trains out of the Counter Punch gym and Thrive training facility in Ann Arbor. If he’s training for an MMA fight, he said he will incorporate a few wrestling and jiu-jitsu practices a week.

“It depends what I am training for,” he said

So since he does both boxing and MMA, it begs the question, which does her prefer.

“I prefer MMA, probably because my background in wrestling,” he answered. “I enjoy boxing as well, but I box to supplement my MMA. Boxing forces me to be in an environment where I can’t rely on my wrestling and it helps me grow more as a fighter.”

In thinking about both sports, STN asked him a question from someone not connected to either one, aren't you afraid of getting hurt? Anything in particular you want the community to know?

“Injuries and damage are a large part of the sport, and that forces you to learn good defense - hands up chin down,” he said. “Wrestling has been the most pivotal skill in all of my fights. I guess I wanted to shed a light on boxing and MMA in a community where it isn’t that popular. Maybe someone else in the area is interested and wants to get involved and this will motivate them.”

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