by Charles Jay
In years past the Olympics were perfect for producing ready-made stars for the boxing ring. That’s happened countless times, but not as much in recent years. If the American team is going to spawn a potential pro superstar, maybe it’s the representative from the media capital of the world.
Marcus Browne, a southpaw, is from Greater New York’s smallest borough, Staten Island. The star pupil at the Park Hill Gym, he is only able to train and pursue the dream of Olympic gold because trainer/commentator Teddy Atlas’ Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation has directed money to funding a few of the amateur boxing programs in the city.
In New York, the Golden Gloves isn’t quite the spectacle it used to be, but it’s still significant, and Browne won three New York Golden Gloves championships. On the national scene, he also won the National P.A.L. (Police Athletic League) championship twice, with a title also in the Olympic Trials last year that were held in Mobile.
Winning the Olympic Trials does not necessarily guarantee anything these days, when the fields are limited to 32 competitors. So Browne had to secure a spot in the Americas Olympic Qualifier in Brazil, which he not only did, but won the event outright. He had already won USA Boxing’s national title at 178 pounds (81 kg). And he went to the third round of the World Championships, which were held in Baku.
Browne is also a student at ASA College In Brooklyn, but that has been put on hold for the time being, as he tries to take things as far as he can go.
Inexplicably, Browne is not among those rated among the top thirty in his weight division by AIBA, which is the world’s governing body for international amateur boxing.
His opening round opponent is. Damien Hooper of Australia carries the #2 rating in the world into Monday’s matchup, but even though he has won the Youth Olympics in the past and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Championships. Hooper is a celebrated “bad boy” in Australian boxing circles, recently having served out a training ban for pissing off some of the Aussie boxing authorities.
Browne’s people think that they can literally walk through Hooper’s lack of power, and if they can they can maneuver their way into an upset that could really propel him. he may have the ability and the dimensions to get it done. Browne is 6’2″ and doesn’t necessarily rely on jabbing and keeping the distance; instead he comes with a thunderous left hand. He also occasionally switches to the orthodox stance.
But the young man has a tough draw. if he can get by Hooper, he is going to have to face Egor Mekhontsev, the Russian who is #9 in AIBA’s ratings and who beat him in last year’s World Championships by a 14-6 count.
Well, stardom doesn’t come easy.