By: Ken Hissner
Ali in 1960 was the Golden Gloves National heavyweight champion and the AAU National light heavyweight runner-up. The last person to defeat him in the amateurs is a name few have ever heard of but this writer knew the name Staff Sgt. Percy Price.
Price served two tours in Viet-Nam. He entered the Marine’s in 1955 and retired in 1976. Price was from Salem, NJ, but retired and moved to Jacksonville, FL.
Price was a 3-time All Marine champion, two Interservice championships and one CISM championship. At the Olympic trials he defeated Hal Epsy to represent the USA in the 1960 Olympics at Rome in the heavyweight division. He won his first match knocking out Ronald Taylor of Australia in two rounds. In the quarter final he lost to Josef Nemic of CZ 4-1. Nemic appeared in three Olympics in 1956, 1960 winning a Bronze Medal and 1964.
In 1956 he was knocked out by USA’s Pete Rademacher in two rounds. The latter went on to win the Gold Medal in the Olympics and fought Floyd Patterson in his debut for the heavyweight title having the champion on the floor in the second round before being knocked down six times and for the last time in the sixth round.
Ali represented the USA in the light heavyweight division. Ali always had a problem with southpaws. He lost to Amos Johnson in the 1959 Pan Am Trials. He went onto get to the finals after defeating Yvon Becaus, of Belgium, RSC 2, Gennadi Schatkov, of USSR 5-0, Tony Madigan, of Australia, 5-0 and in the final Poland’s southpaw Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, 5-0.
If Ali would have represented the USA in the heavyweight division and he would have got to the semi-final he would have met another southpaw from Italy Franco de Piccoli who defeated the man Price lost to Nemec 4-1. Then he defeated Daan Bekker of South Africa for the Gold Medal.
As a professional de Piccoli won his first twenty-five fights, twenty by knockout before losing to American Wayne Bethea and then Jamaica’s Joe Bygraves by knockout in back to back losses. He would go onto win his next twelve fights before losing his last two bouts by knockout to American Everett Copeland, 3-7-3 and Peter Weiland, 8-2 in his final fight.
In closing out his career he was 37-4 (29) at age 28. Some of the boxers he defeated were Billy Daniels, 19-6-1, who gave Ali fits as a pro. Also, Americans Herb Siler, 20-9, who Ali defeated earlier, Floyd Joyner, 23-9-3, Howard King, 42-26-8, Tony Hughes, 26-2, Buddy Turman, 35-9-1 and German Uli Ritter, 21-9-6, breaking a bone in his left hand.
Ali’s amateur record was mentioned with six different totals like 100-5, 118-5, 127-5, 134-7, 137-7 and 99-8. He was a six-time Kentucky Golden Gloves champion.
More Boxing History
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: BOXING INSIDER INTERVIEW WITH YUANDALE ‘MONEY SHOT’ EVANS
By: John Freund
Yuandale Evans has fought 20 pro fights and maintains an impressive 19-1 record, but his toughest fight came outside of the ring as he battled his own promoters for years in what has sadly become an all-too-common storyline in professional boxing: The never-ending contractual dispute. Evans fought only twice in 5 years during the prime of his career, yet somehow maintained the mental and emotional fortitude necessary to remain in peak fighting condition. And just when he was about to call it quits, the Boxing Gods came calling in the form of a short-notice fight against former World Champion, Billel Dib… on a Lou DiBella card, no less! Evans made the most of his opportunity, scoring a hard-fought unanimous decision upset. We talked with Evans about his trials and tribulations, the long hard road to success, and what lies ahead for the man they call ‘Money Shot.’
Tell me about your background. Why did you get into boxing?
When I got into boxing, I was only 10. I have a younger brother who started boxing a year before the age amateur boxers are supposed to start fighting. So I was supporting him and traveling with him a lot, and I took a liking to it. Before that I was a straight-A student. I was into arts, drawing, coloring, computers – definitely computers – that’s one of the things I went to college for, computer engineering. I was always a laid-back, people-person. I didn’t know I could fight, because I never got into fights.
So what was that 1st fight like? A lot of butterflies?
Without the head gear and with the smaller gloves, I felt like a bird let out of a cage – like I could do anything I wanted – that I could hit, that I couldn’t be touched. And it was a lot easier for me, being that I have a pro-style, I’m a big puncher. I definitely was nervous – my debut was on HBO in Biloxi, Mississippi, on a Roy Jones Jr. undercard. So I was definitely nervous being that it was going to be televised.
After a promising start to your career, you suffered a 1st round KO in your only loss to a very tough opponent, Javier Fortuna. What happened in that fight?
Both of us being southpaws, I went up and he went over. He landed with a lot of power, and my gloves touched the mat, but the ref didn’t say anything! He didn’t call it a knockdown. I was a little confused by that, and I was hurt too. I had never been hurt before in my entire life! But oh man, I was hurt… and he rushed me with a bunch of punches and he pinned me on the ropes. My corner didn’t tell me to hold, and I had never had that experience before, so instead of grabbing and holding, or moving out of there, I continued to fight. It was just a case of me never being in that type of situation before, and not really knowing what to do.
After that fight, you had a 39-month layoff between 2012 and 2015 due to contractual issues with various promoters. What was that time like for you?
It was one of the worst times of my life. I had started going back to college, so I started getting in debt with student loans. And my team stopped believe in me. I actually left my trainer that I had been with since I was 10. I was really upset because I felt like I couldn’t get to where I should go or where I should be, but at the same time, I feel like I had to go through all that to become the man I am today.
How do you stay mentally motivated during those lean years?
I’ve always been mentally motivated. I’ve never had male role models, so I’ve always motivated myself to do better. I just decided to put in the work. I started getting back in the gym, getting in tip-top shape. I was at training camps, I was sparring everybody who was winning and fighting – every top guy. And everyone was promising me things, saying, “hey, we didn’t know you were still in the game, we’re going to get you signed.” It was basically all just to keep me in training camp, to get their guys more work.
Did you ever think of quitting?
Oh definitely (laughs). Right before DiBella called me, I was telling my fiancé, “I’m done with this.” I was at a point where I’m either going to work a job and go back to school, or I’m going to box. And being a boxer wasn’t paying the bills. I kept leaving jobs to go to training camp and to go to the gym and train for fights that I was getting called for.
Were you still getting a lot of calls?
Oh yeah, we were getting calls. It could be a guy that’s 100-0, and we’d say, “yeah, we’ll fight him.” They’d say ‘okay,’ and they’d give us a BS purse. We’d say, “yeah, we’ll take it anyway, we just want to get on TV.” And then a week or two down the line, they’d call and say, ‘Ohhh, Evans is too tough. We don’t want that type of fighter, we’re looking for a lower caliber fighter.’
Your last fight was your first in 1.5 years, and you took it on short notice – 1 month after you proposed to your fiancé – to face an extremely tough Billel Dib. Going into that fight, Dib was ranked #6 by the WBO. Not to mention he is the bigger guy, and you were jumping up in weight. How did you prepare for all of that?
I had 5 sparring partners. I sparred 2 junior welterweights, and 1 middleweight. I was doing resistance sparring with those guys – what that is, is no break/no bell, 4/4/4. I started swimming. I was dieting. I started running like 7 miles every other day. And I was doing the sprint-and-run workout that Adrian Broner taught me when I was in training camp with him. This was also the first time I actually watched one of my opponent’s fight videos. He fights tall, so I actually thought he was a lot taller (laughs)… I had a 6-foot sparring partner!
You scored a tough UD win, which has given you a lot of attention. What are your hopes for the future now that you have a spotlight on you?
I’m looking for titles, man. I’m back down at 126, and I’m looking for title fights at 126 – I’m looking to take that division over. I want to at least fight 2 more times this year, before the year is out. I’m looking for those big names.
What advice do you have for young fighters looking to sign with promoters? What should they look out for and be aware of?
My advice, for one: never give up. Even when it gets bad, even when it gets rough, even when you lose your first fight – never give up. Adversity should fuel your fire, it should make you want to go harder. Keep your focus, be level-headed, and just keep going and keep driving. As far as with the promoters and managers, it’s political. If you’re a money-maker, they’re gonna deal with you. If you’re not a money-maker, you have to become one… you have to become TV material. My approach is: be polite, be a gentleman, and be somebody that can kick ass too.
You were successful after two very long layoffs in your career. What advice do you have to any fighter looking to make a comeback after a long layoff?
My advice would be to stay in the gym. Stay mentally and physically in shape. Make sure your body can go those rounds. Dieting – I’m a small guy, I’m not a big eater anyway, so I can’t really give a dieting suggestion. I just stayed ready and I did a lot of sparring. I did 12 or 15 rounds just to be prepared. I sparred with junior welterweights and a middleweight to make sure I could take their punches. Just keep going hard and keep in shape and keep training.
Besides Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson, who’s the greatest boxer of all time?
Roberto Duran. I met him when I fought out in Vegas on B-hop and Roy Jones’ card. I got a pic too. He’s a great guy. He looks like a giant Super Mario brother (laughs).
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, and congrats on getting engaged – when’s the big day?
We’ve got the month – not the official date. September of next year, Cancun.
Great. Hopefully you’ll be a champion by then…
Hopefully I’ll be more than 1 by then!
Claressa “T-Rex” Shields the Greatest Amateur Female Boxer Turning Professional November 19th Under Kovalev and Ward!
By: Ken Hissner
The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa “T-Rex” Shields will be turning professional on November 19th on the undercard of Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward against pro debuting Franchon Crews, of Baltimore, MD, an eight-time USA National Boxing champion who lost in the 2015 Olympics Trials at light heavyweight. They fought in February of 2012 Olympic Trials when Crews was No. 1 with Shields winning 31-19 and 16 at the time. Shields should not be lost in the crowd of 10 bouts scheduled at the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, NV.
The 21 year-old Shields will be moving up from middleweight to super middleweight. Now living in southern FL and training at Boca Raton, FL, after living her whole life in Flint, MI, she had a 77-1 record in the amateurs only losing in 2012 World amateur championships in China. She would go onto win the 2014 and 2016 World amateur championships. She won her first Olympic Gold Medal in London, England, defeating opponents from Sweden, Kazakhstan and Russia. In 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she won her second Olympic Gold Medal defeating opponents 3-0 from Russia, Kazakhstan and Netherlands.
Shields also won the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada defeating opponents from Brazil, Argentina and Dominican Republic all by scores of 3-0. She is only the third female boxer to be on the cover of Ring Magazine in their December 2016 edition.
Shields is well represented by co-managers Mark Taffet and Jamie Fritz. Taffet who spent 25 years with HBO Sports and running HBOPPV since their inception in 1991, started his own company Mark Taffet Media leaving HBO in January 2016. Co-manager Fritz is president of Fritz Martin Management out of Las Vegas, NV, an Athlete Rep firm. Her trainer will be Leon Lawson who trained the Dirrell brothers, Andre the Olympic Bronze medalist in 2004 and Anthony the former WBC World super middleweight champion.
“Claressa has incredibly broad shoulders and understands the responsibility that comes with her talent and her quest to lead the resurgence of women’s boxing. She is wise well beyond her 21 years. She believes the way to make a statement is to take on the best and show that women’s boxing is competitive, serious, talent-filled and entertaining,” said Mark Taffet.
It’s this writer’s hope that the American people and those non-American fight fans get behind the two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner Claressa Shields.
“She has a one-fight deal with Roc Nation for November 19th. She has not signed a multi-fight deal with any promoter. Claressa and her management team have had discussions with a number of promoters and will assess the alternatives which best fit her strategic goals following her November 19 professional debut,” said Mark Taffet.
Shields once mentioned signing with Al Haymon or Golden Boy Promotions. Roc Nation has a one fight deal ahead of everyone.
“Claressa arrives in Las Vegas on Monday and will be participating in a full array of fight week media activities. Hers will be the highest profile and most media-intensive female professional boxing debut ever,” said Mark Taffet.
The Harder They Fall
By Kent Wallace with Cindy “Boom Boom” Podgorski
So I’m seated at the bar at American Legion Post 92, surrounded by a bunch of guys who have seen some serious combat—most are, after-all; veterans.
Artist and sidekick, Cindy “Boom Boom” Podgorski pulls up, orders a Tito, diluting it with ice but nothing more.
We’re here to cover an amateur boxing card presented by The Hurricane Boxing District and sponsored by Guy Pagan (recently elected Commander of American Legion Post 92).
Now Guy has pedigree. He’s Event Coordinator at the local Hard Rock Casino and the GM for the World Series of Boxing (South Florida). Tonight will mark the first boxing event held at the seminal “92” which has been around since 1948…
When you enter a room with “Boom Boom” Podgorski at your side, you get instant attention. And the lads responded with smiles that quickly betrayed the tough-guy persona they’d probably worked on for weeks in their mirrors.
Talk about the Sweet-Science—this was the sweetest of moments…
So “Boom Boom” and I strolled beneath the banner that reads “It’s not the price you pay to be a member, but the price you paid to be eligible.”
They’ll be no Medals of Valor or Purple Hearts being handed out tonight, but for the twenty or so kids all wrapped up and ready to go it’ll be a chance to show their stuff in the ring, with a crowd, and under the lights—how cool is that!
The buzz was further boinged by the presence of boxing greats Shannon Briggs and Glen Johnson—I mean to tell ya, these kids were ready to rumble and they didn’t disappoint.
Hey, the Olympics are past and U.S. boxers did okay (comparatively to recent outings). Claressa Shields took Gold (back-to-back), Shakur Stevenson took Silver and Nico Hernandez took home a Bronze.
The pugs who punched away in the parking lot of Post 92 the other night, may well represent us down the road—one never knows—but “Boom Boom” and I had ring-side seats to what I’m told was just the first in a series of…
2016 Olympics Underway As Americans Look to Seek Gold!
By: Ken Hissner
The Olympic Games are in Rio, Brazil, with boxing opening up on Saturday but no Americans have fought yet through first 3 rounds.
There are 3 CA boxers and 2 from KS on the 10 man team of the USA. At Super heavyweight is Marlo Moore, of Hayward, CA, light heavyweight is Jonathan Esquivel, of Anaheim, CA, and at lightweight is Carlos Balderas, of Santa Maria, CA. At heavyweight is Cam Awesome, of Lenexa, KS, and at light flyweight Nico Hernandez, of Wichita, KS. At middleweight is Charles Conwell, of Cleveland Heights, OH. At welterweight is Philadelphia’s Paul Kroll. He is the lone Philadelphia boxer.
There were 3 others Philadelphia boxers who have turned professional after not winning a spot. The most talented is now welterweight Jaron “Boots” Ennis who has won by knockout in all 5 of his fights in 5 months. Moving up a weight class is Christian Carto who has won both of his bouts by stoppage. He will be making his Philadelphia debut August 26th at the Sugar House Casino. At super heavyweight Darmani Rock has won all of his 4 bouts, 3 by knockout in 4 months. 11-0 for the Philadelphia threesome who were Olympic Alternates in 2016.
At light welterweight is Gary Antuanne Russell, of Capitol Heights, MD. One of the boxers favored to get the Gold is Bantamweight Shakur Stevenson, of Newark, NJ. Rounding out the 10 team member is Antonio Vargas of Kissimmee, FL.
In some of the past history of the Olympics there have been 3 boxers who have won 3 Gold Medals. First was Hungary’s Laszlo Papp winning in 1948 in London, 1952 in Helsinki and 1956 in Melbourne. Promoter Lou Lucchese once told me he tried contacting Papp’s people hoping he would come to the US to fight then middleweight champion Joey Giardello out of Philadelphia. Next thing he knew the FBI was at his door. Seems Papp was not allowed to leave Europe per the Communist country of Hungary. After a bout in October of 1964 he was told he wasn’t allowed to fight again by the government and that he could not fight for a world title in 1965. He was 27-0-2 and European champion.
Then came the well-known Cuban heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson winning Gold in 1972 in Munich, 1976 in Montreal and 1980 in Moscow. Most recently Cuba’s heavyweight Felix Savon won Gold in 1992 in Barcelona, 1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney. Many rumors had Stevenson coming to the US to fight World Champion Muhammad Ali but they were only rumors. There was no way the Castro brothers were allowing Stevenson to come to the US and be exploited by Ali.
In 1904 in St. Louis American Oliver Kirk won Gold medals at 125 and dropped 10 pounds in a week to win at 115. Eddie Eagan (1920) won a pair of Gold Medals in boxing and part of the 4-man Bobsleigh. Cincinnati’s Rau’shee Warren competed in 3 Olympics in 2004, 2008 and 2012 without medaling. The USA team hasn’t won a Gold Medal since 2004 when Andre Ward took Gold at 178. 2000 was Gold empty. 1992 and 1996 brought in a Gold Medal apiece. The 1996 Gold medal went to Philadelphia’s David Reid. Oscar “Golden Boy” De la Hoya of East L.A. won Gold in 1992.
In 1988 there were 3 Gold medal winners. At Heavyweight Ray “Mercilless” Mercer. Kennedy McKinney took the Bantamweight Gold medal. Andrew Maynard won the Gold medal in the Light Heavyweight Division.
In 1984 without Russian, East Germany and Cuba competing the USA team took 9 Gold Medals. They were won by Paul Gonzales, Steve McCrory, Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker, Jerry Page, Mark Breland, Frank Tate, Henry Tillman and Tyrell Biggs.
The USA 1976 team in this writer’s opinion was the greatest Olympic team ever. They won 4 Gold Medals and all winners went onto win world titles in the professional ranks. They were John Tate, Michael and Leon Spinks along with “Sugar” Ray Leonard. This writer did a story about 1976 vs 1984 with Manny Steward of the Kronk Gym and Joe Clough of the Tacoma Boy’s Club who trained 5 Gold medalists along with this writer as judges. The 1976 team won 8-3.
1956 Heavyweight Gold Medalist Pete Rademacher made his professional debut losing to 1952 Gold Medal Olympian and then World Heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson. Current WBO Super featherweight champion Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko was a two-time Gold Medalist in 2008 and in 2012. He challenged for a world title in his second pro fight losing. Then winning the WBO featherweight title in his third fight. He took his current title in his seventh fight.
There have been numerous Gold Medal winners who would go onto becoming world champions in the professional ranks. Starting with Ray Leonard (1976), and his teammates were Michael Spinks, Leon Spinks and Leo Randolph. Leon would win the world heavyweight title in his 8th fight defeating Muhammad Ali. From the 1984 team were Mark Breland, Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfield, Virgil Hill and Frank Tate.
Others were Italy’s Maurizio Stecca (1984), Cuba’s Joel Casamayor (1992), Ray Mercer (1988), Jackie Fields (1924), David Reid (1996), Hungary’s Istvan Kovacs (1996), Andre Ward (2004), Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux (2000 and 2004) won the interim WBA World Super Bantamweight title in his 7th fight and in his 9th fight the WBA World Super Bantamweight tite, George Foreman (1968), Oscar De la Hoya (1992), Fidel La Barba (1924) UK’s Anthony Joshua (2012), Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa (2004), Canada’s Lennox Lewis (1992), KAZ Vassiliy Jirov (1996), Italy’s Nino Benvenuti (1960), Muhammad Ali then Cassius Clay (1960), Argentina’s Pascual Perez (1948) and Joe Frazier (1964) to name a few.
There have been anywhere from 47 to 49 Gold Medals won by USA boxers since 1904. This writer counted 47 in 22 Olympics over a 112 year period. On the women’s team there is Claressa Shields who won a Gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. The other woman is Mikaela Mayer. The 3 men are Gary Antuanne Russell, Shakur Stevenson and Antonio Vargas. All 5 may be long shots but you never know in boxing especially this Olympics there will be no headgear. Let’s root them on!
The Lasting Stain of Pros in the Olympics
By: Brandon Bernica
When the International Boxing Association ruled that professional boxers would be eligible to compete in this year’s Olympics, Hassan N’Dam’s dreams of winning gold could not be closer. A former world title challenger in the pro ranks, N’Dam chose to try his hand in Rio despite overwhelming opposition to the decision. Yet on the dawn of the games beginning, N’Dam’s hopes crashed down hard after a loss to Brazil’s Michel Borges kicked him out of the tournament early.
N’Dam’s exit hits home for the people of his native Cameroon. But from a broader perspective, his loss signifies the risks inherent in this new professional Olympian trend. This troubling curveball in the Olympic ranks threatens to jeopardize professional fighters’ careers as they stoop down to disrupt amateur boxing in the process.
The Olympics have long been the pinnacle of amateur boxing. Mystique infiltrates the event as young fighters from across the globe fight for the last time before they enter the murky waters of professional boxing. Instead of fighting for a new contract or a high-grade endorsement, these boxers fight for no more than their nation’s honor. Having fighters tainted by the pro game enter this fray runs the risk of devaluing gold medals into nothing more than trophies on a mantelpiece. Gold medals should be symbols of national victory, not tokens of individualistic success.
Of course, the danger most critics note about professional boxers entering the Olympics is the potential of harmful mismatches. Yes, N’Dam lost to an amateur, but imagine if the characters in this story were different. What if power-punching Gennady Golovkin entered and faced some overpowered 17-year old kid? The potential for career-altering injury would be much higher in an already scary sport. Young fighters grow and make mistakes in the amateurs without the fear of long, punishing rounds. Adding strong pros and fighting without headgear make the Olympics a hotbed for waiting disaster.
Yet for pros, forgoing their careers in search of Olympic glory doesn’t come without a price. Let’s take N’Dam as an example. Due to a new regulation by the WBC, N’Dam cannot fight for their belt for two years because he fought in the Olympics, even if he rises in their rankings. This decreases the chances that N’Dam lands lucrative, momentous fights in the coming years. In the future, expect more boxing organizations to take stands against this trend in hopes of preserving the quality of the amateur and professional sides. Most of boxing stringently opposes the new Olympics rules, so N’Dam may face ridicule and bias against him for his decision. In a sport where bias plays a massive role, this hurts.
Boxing needs to be tough on these professionals who choose to enter an amateur competition. Yes, I get it, there is a lot of positives in being an Olympian. But those positives don’t outweigh the negatives. Year after year, we watch as bad judging persists, promoters continue to run shady operations, and fighter safety remains dead as a topic of conversation. We can’t sit idly by and watch boxing’s own notorious reputation become its reality. The official Olympic committee needs to oversee its boxing section with more care. Fighters need to be suspended and educated for entertaining this risky business. It’s a slippery slope that, if not regulated, could drive boxing’s credibility deeper and deeper into the ground.
In no other sport do professionals fight amateurs. Period. Clear distinctions are drawn between the two ranks for obvious reasons. Yet because of short-sighted motives, these lines in the sand are more blurred than ever. Both professional and amateur boxing involve vastly different incentives, rules, and talent-levels. N’Dam’s loss showcases boxing’s parity at the expense of a trend that could eventually turn lethal. Everyone involves deserves better than for gold medals to be awarded because professionals find it convenient to take advantage of comically awful rules.
Team USA Boxing Preview: Rio Olympics 2016
By: Matthew N. Becher
We are less than a month away from the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, with the boxing portion taking place from August 6th thru the 21st. All of the competitors for team USA are set, with six men and two women representing the country. Here are a few notes that may help you keep things in order.
The USA Representatives:
-Carlos Balderas (Lightweight/132lbs) 19 years old; Santa Maria, Calif
-Charles Conwell (Middleweight) 18 years old; Cleveland, OH
-Nico Hernandez (Light Flyweight) 20 years old: Wichita, Kansas
-Mikaela Mayer (Lightweight) 26 years old: Los Angeles, Calif
-Gary Antuanne Russell (Light Welterweight) 20 years old: Capitol Heights, Maryland (Brother of WBC world champion Gary Russel Jr.)
-Claressa Shields (Middleweight) 21 years old: Flint, Mich. Defending Olympic Gold Medalist
-Shakur Stevenson (Bantamweight) 19 years old: Newark, NJ
-Antonio Vargas (Flyweight) 19 years old: Kissimmee, FL
The missing Captain:
The captain of team USA is heavyweight Cam F. Awesome, formerly known as Lenroy Thompson, who qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games, but was not able to make this year’s team. Unfortunately Awesome will not be competing at the games in Rio, and fulfilling his dream of winning an Olympic medal. He has also speculated that this may be the end of his boxing career, as he is more of a fan of the amateur boxing style instead of the professional one. For many that have followed amateur boxing for the past several years, Awesome’s personality and leadership will be greatly missed.
While all of our athletes are more than good enough to come home medalist, the cream of the crop are narrowed down to two of our boxers. On the Men’s side, it is Shakur Stevenson. Stevenson is 23-0 in international competition and one of the best young fighters in the world. He has the ability to really make a name for himself in these games and become the first US, Male, Olympian to win a Gold Medal since Andre Ward did it over a decade ago, at the 2004 games in Athens. The other hopeful to bring home the gold, is none other than the best female fighter on the planet, Claressa Shields. Claressa won the Gold 4 years ago in London at the age of 17, becoming the first women to ever win a Gold Medal in the inaugural year of Women’s Boxing at the Olympic Games. Shields is not only a heavy favorite to win, but could outshine all other athletes at this year’s games. She has the makings to be a star and the goods to become a phenomenal pro someday.
Olympic Boxing will be held from August 6th-August 21st. The first events will begin at 10am EST on the 6th. Check this website for updates
http://www.nbcolympics.com/live-stream-schedule/boxing?day=1 and all streaming fights from NBC.
AIBA to allow pro’s in the 2016 Olympic games, Fair or Foul?
By: Matthew Becher
Last month a vote took place with AIBA (Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur or International Boxing Association) in which 84 out of its 88 federations agreed to allow professional boxers to participate in the upcoming summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This will be the first time that professional boxers will be allowed to compete in a, regularly, amateur event and against other amateur participants. This brings up many questions of why this has been changed so close to the actual events and why a mixing of pro’s and novices would be thought to be Okay to do.
The reasoning for AIBA to allow professional athletes and amateurs to compete with one another is to “increase the amount of competitive boxers”, having amateurs step up their competition can only make them better. What then happens to amateur boxing? Under this new model, the true amateur boxer, who has gone through years of tournaments and trials just to make it to the Olympics will be able to retain their amateur status, but why would they? If you are already going to end up fighting grown men and paid prize fighters in the biggest stage that an amateur can achieve, why not just become a pro as early as possible, get paid yourself. An amateur trying to make an Olympic team goes through a very intense and grueling process to just qualify for an Olympic games. It only comes around every four years, and within those four years, you are traveling, training and for most of these youngsters, still going to school. If you could sign with a promoter, make money fighting and still be able to be able to fight in an “amateur” styled tournament, why stay in a dorm room with other amateurs?
What happens to the great amateur programs of the world, namely the Cubans and Russians? We see so many great professional Cuban and Ex-Soviet country fighters right now, and the main reason why they are so dominant is because they are from Socialist countries, that have extremely disciplined amateur programs. They are paid, not always handsomely, and are only allowed to fight in amateur style tournaments. This, in most people’s opinions, engrains the trades of the sport into them so well, they become second nature. If a fighters has 300+ amateur fights, then they know when to jab and when to duck. It becomes like breathing, it is instilled. They biggest highlight for these men, especially the Cubans, who are technically never allowed to turn pro (unless they defect from their native country) is winning an Olympic Gold, some even do it multiple times. If pro fighters can just get in there with the amateurs, what would happen to these dominant boxing countries?
Safety also has to be an issue. This year, AIBA has also decided to go back to the days of no head gear. This is an issue all in itself, and does seem to have some great benefits, but does it when we start putting 18yr old kids in the ring with say 30+ year old men, some who are current or former world champions. Watching fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, or Artur Beterbiev knockout other professionals in 1 round is one thing, but how does that play out when they put that kind of power on a novice? Many amateurs seem to have no problem with this happening, but we suspect that as bravado. You cannot expect an amateur, who may have sparred with pros in the past, to be able to take that type of power. Sparring with headgear is one thing, a real fight is completely different.
What does AIBA look to get out of this? Is it higher ratings, since Boxing may be on the docket to drop as an Olympic sport in the future? Do they want bigger Knockouts? Most amateur fights go to decisions and work on a point system, does getting rid of Headgear and adding professionals increase viewership and knockdowns? Do they want Stars now, instead of building them up like it used to with Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, Oscar De la Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Vasyl Lomachenko, George Foreman, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and the list can go on and on.
Some boxers have showed interest in actually participating in this. Manny Pacquiao has said he would see how it would balance with his new Senatorial duties. Amir Khan has shown interest in participating for his parent’s homeland of Pakistan. Light Heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev looks to be making his way to Rio. Other boxers have spoken out about it, speaking about its safety issues. The World Boxing Council has even put out a warning, that any professional boxers who do decide to participate in the Olympics will be banned from their rankings for two years. It is a debate that is going on right now, and both sides are making good points to their arguments. Should professionals be allowed to compete in the Olympics, they do in Golf, Basketball, Tennis, Hockey….but those guys aren’t getting punched by fully developed, trained, fighters.