By Charles Jay
Somebody’s got to get the United States boxing team out of the doldrums, and Cleveland’s Terrell Gausha may be just the guy to do it.
The Americans suffered three losses on Wednesday, as bantamweight Joseph Diaz Jr., heavyweight Michael Hunter and super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale all went down to defeat.
Gausha, the contestant in the middleweight (75 kg) supplied some of the great excitement of this Olympiad in his first match, as he ended matters in a fight that could have gone either way by landing a right hand that put Andranik Hakobyan of Armenia down and, for all intents and purposes, out as the final going came.
Gausha says he wasn’t sure whether he was winning on the scorecards or not, but that “I’ve been around the game for awhile so I knew I was cutting it close.”
Yes he was.
Gausha is, one supposes, somewhat unusual among athletes in these Games, in that he has family members around to give him support. Fundraisers were conducted in Cleveland that supplied the money for mother and sister to go to London and stay for as long as necessary to watch him on his Olympic quest.
The family presence may also help Gausha’s focus, and that is something that has most certainly been a problem in the past. Even though Gausha won the U.S. Amateur title at 165 pounds in 2010, he strangely let himself fall out of training. He ballooned up over the 200-pound, mark, which certainly made him appear awkward considering that he is relatively short for the division (5’10”) to begin with.
After skipping the 2011 nationals, Gausha somehow got inspired. Word is that he saw Jesse Hart, who had won the Olympic Trials, lose in the World Amateur Championships, and suddenly there was a greater opportunity to win a spot on the Olympic squad. With that, Gausha competed in the World Series of Boxing season and got himself back into shape with training and a proper diet.
He eventually came back to narrowly beat Hart, and then won the Americas Qualifier, doing more than was necessary to secure his Olympic berth.
On Thursday he’ll go up against India’s Vijender Singh, and it most assuredly will not be an easy assignment. Singh is very experienced at the international level; in fact, he won the bronze medal at middleweight in the 2008 Olympics and also did the same in the 2009 World Championships, with a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games. In fact, Singh was at one time rated the #1 middleweight amateur in the world by AIBA (International Boxing Association).