Chris Middendorf’s Victory Boxing Promotions has signed under-the-radar amateur Kiante Irving to a promotional deal. The 24 year-old middleweight is set to make his professional debut this Sunday in West Virginia.
A 6’3″ middleweight, Irving heads into Sunday’s debut with a National Golden Gloves Championship under his belt, having topped the 165-pound division in the 2018 tournament. Despite a slew of state and national titles under his belt, Irving began boxing late, compared to his peers.
He was 16 when he walked into Tom Yankello’s gym, having been drawn to the squared circle after being unable to find his niche in other sports. Raised by a single mom, boxing was an outlet for Irving, and served as an escape from the poverty and stress that ensconced his home life. It soon became clear that boxing would long be a part of his future.
A humble spirit, Irving kept his head down and his eye on the ball through various family traumas that included an eviction and his brother’s near-fatal battle with Chrohn’s Disease. His younger brother, whom he credits as an inspiration and role model, survived the brush with death to become a firefighter. Irving hopes to use his time in the ring to boost awareness of the disease, and to seize the opportunity to live out his dreams, much like his brother has done in recent years.
After his Golden Gloves Victory, Irving’s trainer Tom Yankello, and his brother and co-manager Mark Yankello, along with Irving, came to the decision that it was time to join the professional ranks. The two managers, operating under the banner Tom Yankello Boxing, Inc., connected with boxing promoter Chris Middendorf and Victory Boxing Promotions. Middendorf, who has helped build the careers of many of today’s world champions, seized the opportunity to work with Irving and the Yankellos.
“I am very excited to add Kiante to Victory Boxing’s stable,” said Middendorf. I had the pleasure of doing a series of shows in Pittsburgh with welterweight Sammy Vasquez, culminating in an ESPN and then a ShowBox show, and a series of events at Consol Energy Center [now the PPG Arena.] I can’t wait to be back in Pittsburgh, promoting another top prospect. It really is a tremendous sports town, and they really come out to support their local athletes.”
Middendorf was complimentary of the Yankello Brothers. “I have known his trainer and co-manager, Tom and Mark Yankello, respectively, by reputation for many years, and have enjoyed working with them. When Mark first spoke to me about Kiante, I knew immediately that I wanted to work with the Yankellos and promote Kiante Irving. With his stellar amateur career, he is ready to be a pro.”
The future looks bright (and busy) for Irving. “I plan to build and move Kiante the same way that I moved Ed Brown and Jaron Ennis. I have promised him a minimum of eight fights in his first year, and I know we will do more. He is a gifted athlete and it is going to be something to watch him develop into one of the top middleweights.”
For his part, Tom Yankello is excited about the young pugilist’s future with Middendorf and Victory Boxing Promotions. “I am very pleased with Victory Boxing Promotions. I have known Chris for many years, and he has a great resume and has been involved with building the careers of elite boxers such as Terence Crawford, Leo Santa Cruz, and Nonito Donaire. We know we’re in good hands, and that Chris knows how to move and develop Kiante.”
“I’m just excited to get my pro career moving,” said Irving of the signing. “My managers are confident, and I’m confident that we’re going to be successful under the Victory Boxing banner, and we will be getting right to work.”
Irivng makes his professional debut this Sunday at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, versus Philadelphia’s Vincent Burkhalter. Tickets are available at www.mademenboxing.com.