RENO -- After 55-plus years in the sport University of Nevada boxing coach Greg Rice knows how to spot talent. And from the beginning of the season he touted freshman David Schacter as a rising star.
The 18-year-old Schacter turned Rice into a prophet Saturday and was the only Nevada boxer to win a title in the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) National Championships, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Schacter stopped Navy's Nick Tawil in the second round of their 132-round championship contest to bring home the oversized belt.
"I call him my little 'Star of David,'" Rice said of Schacter, who is Jewish. "He's a very serious young man. He's got a beautiful smile. He's tough. He's a nice little fighter."
In the ring and out Schacter's come a long way in a short period of time. A 2004 Green Valley High School (Las Vegas) graduate, Schacter graduated a semester early. Then he picked up a quick 16 credits at the Community College of Southern Nevada before going on to earn his Nevada real estate license.
He is now working on a double major (economics and international business) and double minor (Spanish and gaming management) at Nevada.
A former wrestler and soccer player at Green Valley, the 5-foot-8 Schacter finished his first season of boxing for Nevada with a 6-1 record, including an open amateur victory over 2002 NCBA national champion Lionel Nixon in just his second fight.
Schacter, who began practicing in taekwando at the age of 4 and later went 4-1 in Muay Thai contests, took home the NCBA Western Region 132-pound championship on March 19 with a second-round stoppage of San Jose State's Maneet Sohal at the Eldorado Convention Center.
"My family's always pushed me and I've pushed myself," Scachter said with an unassuming smile. "My family's been so supportive. My mom (Beverly Schacter) made all of my fights here and my brother (Ben) came from Missouri to watch me at the nationals in Colorado."
Then there's been his work with old school trainer Rice, who molded the southpaw into a boxer-puncher.
"It's been a real treat working with him," Schacter said of Rice. "He really cares about us (the Nevada boxers) and the sport. Since the beginning of the season we worked a lot on my jab and catching punches (with the gloves). I've got more power and had really good sparring with Jose Casas, Daigo Moki and Thomas Gennaro."
Rice said he likes Schacter's social skills as much as his boxing skills.
"We had him over to the house for Easter Sunday," Rice said. "He brought my wife flowers and my daughters and their husbands enjoyed him. I told him we were having a ham and a priest over for dinner and he said he didn't mind. He 'ate like a buyer' as we said in the old days. Father Jacob said David's a really nice young man."
Like Rice, Schacter is old school when it comes to watching fights. Although he likes to watch Oscar De La Hoya, Schacter cites Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta and Jersey Joe Walcott as his favorite fighters.
Schacter has another admirable characteristic.
"At the nationals he had a tough (semifinal) fight (a rematch with Virginia Military Institute's Todd Wilson, who defeated Schacter March 4 in Reno) that was so close that he thought he may have lost it," Rice said. "(Schacter) took the belt over to the kid and offered it to him. Isn't that classy?"
Schacter said he felt he won his rematch with Wilson, but after looking at the videotape he thought Wilson may have gotten the better of him.
"(After defeating Tawil) I went over to Wilson and took some pictures with him and his family," Schacter said. "I could see the loss really hurt him, so I offered him the belt."
Wilson, a 2004 national champion at 139 pounds, refused the belt.
"David pays attention and works hard in the gym," Rice said. 'He's like (three-time national champion) Joey Gilbert and (2004 national champion) Ryan Healy - that's how hard he works. I don't think he missed a day all year. He's one of those rare kids. I hope he'll be a leader next year. I hope he wins three more national championships. I don't think we've ever had a four-time champion."
Asked if he'd like to go for the four-peat, Schacter just smiled and said, "Sure. But I've got to get the next one first."
Notes: Five other Nevada boxers competed for national championships. Defending national 165-pound champion Healy lost a controversial decision to UNLV's Greg Murrell and three-time defending regional 125-pound champion Casas lost to Navy's Jeremy Biggs in the finals.
Defending regional heavyweight champion John Lorman, 147-pound Gennaro and 119-pound Moki all lost in the semifinal round.