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Chicago boxer faced Boston Marathon bombing suspect in ring

SALT LAKE CITY UT - MAY 4:  Tamerlan Tsamaev (L) fights Lamar Fenner (R) during 201-pound divisiboxing match during

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 4: Tamerlan Tsamaev (L) fights Lamar Fenner (R) during the 201-pound division boxing match during the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions May 4, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. After a car chase and shoot out with police, one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot and killed by police early morning April 19, and a manhunt is underway for his brother and second suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. The two men are suspects in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, that killed three people and wounded at least 170. (Photo by Glenn DePriest/Getty Images)

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Updated: May 21, 2013 6:21AM

A Chicago boxer who died last year once fought one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

In 2009, Lamar Fenner traveled to Utah to fight in a national Golden Gloves boxing tournament after winning a Golden Gloves title in Chicago as a junior at Leo Catholic High School, recalled his former trainer, Mike Joyce.

Fenner’s first opponent was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old bombing suspect killed Friday morning outside Boston after leading police on a wild chase.

“We got some video on the kid,” he recalled of Tsarnaev. “He was a standup Eastern European-style fighter. I told [Fenner] to go inside on the guy and rough him up a little bit. ... The guy had a lot of experience and was a lot bigger.”

It was a tough bout.

Tsarnaev knocked Fenner down to the canvas, and the referee gave him an eight count, but he recovered and won the fight in a decision. Fenner’s victory reportedly drew boos from Tsarnaev’s supporters.

Joyce, who trains boxers at Leo Catholic High and at his Celtic Boxing Club on the Southwest Side, said Fenner graduated from Leo and went to college on a wrestling scholarship. He graduated and returned to boxing.

Fenner, the son of a Chicago firefighter, boxed for Team USA around the world before an eye injury ended his career. He died of a heart condition in 2012, just one day before he was going to start a job as a truck driver, Joyce said.

“He was always working and he was fearless,” Joyce said.

As for Tsarnaev, Joyce said he was stunned by the allegations that he was a terrorist. “It boggles my mind,” he said. “Boxing is an individual sport, a fraternity. It requires a lot of dedication. For a boxer to get involved in something as insane as terrorism, I just don’t know.”

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