Jesse Valdez from the 1972 Olympics Was a Special Boxer
By: Ken Hissner
It was the summer of 1972 when this writer was watching the Olympic boxing from Munich, Germany. Who would know that the USA team would only win a total of 4 medal’s one being a Gold and three Bronze medals?
The one boxer on this team I always wanted to talk to was a Bronze medal winner Jesse Valdez out of Houston, TX. I started writing ten years ago and during that time I tried making contact with him but never was able to. Finally a week or so ago I saw an article by Rick Wright a Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer in New Mexico entitled “Boxing star Valdez still counting his blessings”. I was able to contact him and he gave me Jesse’s phone number and I took it from there.
“The Lord gave me a gift,” said Valdez. His first coach was Charles Cord.
There was one Gold medal winner on the 1972 team and it was “Sugar” Ray Seales from the Tacoma Boy’s Club that Joe Clough was coach. Seales would go into the professional ranks and end up with a 57-8-3 record with 34 knockouts.
Also on the team gaining a Bronze medal was future two-time world light heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson, 43-6 (35).I contacted him and he said “why would you want to do a story on me?” I said “you were an Olympian and a two-time world champion”. He agreed to do a story. I love it when they are as humble as Marvin was.
Another Bronze medal winner was Ricardo Carreras, of NY, representing the Air Force. After failing to make the 1976 Olympic teamhe turned professional in 1978 and went 2-0 (2).
Three other team members of the eleven turned professional who were Duane Bobick, of the Navy, 48-4 (42) who I did a story on, Reggie Jones, 16-9-1 (8), of the Marines, Louis Self, 3-2 (2), of the Air Force and Davey Lee Armstrong, 24-3 (6) who was also a team member of the 1976 team that I did a story on him and teammates.
Not turning professional were Raymond Russell, of the Marines, Louis Busceme, Louis Self of the Air Force and Tim Dement. “I love Jesse Valdez,” said Dement. Getting back to the other boxer representing the Air Force was Valdez who was the one boxer that stood out to this writer. My two favorite Olympians of all time were him and Chuck Walker from the 1976 team.
Walker said of Valdez: I was one of those glued to the TV in 1972 watching boxing in the Olympics at Munich. Everybody knows Jesse was THE guy. He was the darling that year. I was 14 and just started boxing. He was one of my early heroes. Never noted at all for power but could that guy box, very slick, clever and effective. I believe he won the Bronze but should have won the Gold. I got to know Jesse well when he was the assistant coach at the 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City. We (team) trained in Durango, Colorado for several weeks, then got outfitted in Dallas and then onto MC. Jesse was a great pal and coach. He related well with the guys since he was more our age. I remember one time we were riding a taxi to the coliseum for the fights. I was fighting and Michael Dokes was fighting that night. Jesse was trying to find a radio station in English and finally happened on a song by Barbara Streisand. Dokes acted like that was pure anathema and went for the dial. Jesse slapped his hand away and said “Look man….we finally found something in English. Let it be. You’re not going to find any soul music in this city. Dokes said “I don’t know what’s worse….no music at all or Barbara Streisand!!!” Jesse and I used to walk around the Pan Am village together just out of boredom. We went to a few musical acts just outside the pavilion on the grounds. Often we had lunch together in the big cafeteria. Jesse was the one that took me to the USA medical building in the village when I got my lip split by Clinton Jackson in a freak accident in sparring. He looked out for us because he had been there and knew what it was like. He knew it was a tough business and he tried to make it less so.
Valdez was also instrumental in calming what could have been a horrible situation when Tommy Sullivan won 100 bucks from Michael Dokes betting on pinball in the game room. Tempers flared and the two almost went together for real, but Jesse talked them out of it. Later that night 100 bucks came up missing from Tommy’s locker. Jesse, along with “Sugar” Ray suggested to the other fighters that we all put in a few bucks to get Tommy paid back. And then again the situation was controlled. I haven’t talked to Jesse in probably 35 years but have thought of him often and I’m glad to hear he’s doing well. If you talk to him give him my best and tell him I’ve had Burton Gilliam (from Dallas, TX) in several of my movies. Burton and Jesse fought several times back in the amateurs.
Valdez said he had about 200 fights but never kept track of his record. It was in 1964 that the then 16 year old Houston native won the National AAU welterweight championship upsetting Olympic Bronze medalist Quincy Daniels of the 1960 Olympics. Valdez would qualify for the 1964 Olympic team as an alternate. In that same year he toured as a member of the US team in Africa.
In 1967 Valdez won a Bronze medal at the Pan-American Games and was also the Golden Gloves champion. In 1970 he won the National AAU light middleweight title. In 1972 he won the Golden Gloves again and qualified for the US national team by defeating future world light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. “He cold cocked me and dropped me to a knee in the first round. I would return the favor in either the first or second round,” said Valdez.
At the Olympics in 1972 Valdez defeated KolmanKalipe (Togo) 5-0, Carlos Burga (Peru) 4-1 which I thought was a tougher fight than with the Cuban but Valdez disagreed, David Jackson (Uganda) 4-1, Anatoly Khohlov (Soviet Union) 5-0, before losing in the semi-finals to Emilio Correa (Cuba) 3-2. This writer thought Valdez won without any doubt.Correra also won the 1971 Pan-American Games and participated in the 1976 Olympics.
Valdez was in the Air Force never turning professional but even fought until 1980 at age 32 as an amateur. Junior Robles had him box on an amateur show against a Marine who outweighed Valdez by 40 pounds. “When I saw how big he was I moved and boxed him,” said Valdez. Robles also had him compete for the CA state amateur title in Sacramento where Valdez came out victorious.
“He gives boxing a good name because he was so kind hearted yet capable of destroying his opponents while staying calmly in control. Good manners are special and Jesse is someone worth writing about. Many years after the 1972 Olympics Jesse told me something to the effect that, I made an impression on him seeing me reading my Bible when we were teammates. What a great guy my brother Jesse is….he loves our Lord,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian at 112)
“I heard about him before I met him. He was like a legend. Everybody talked about Jesse. In 1967 or 1968 I saw him fight Joe Cokes, brother of world champion Curtis Cokes whom he out boxed.He was a gentleman, smart and a classy fighter. I was in the Air Force five years and knew him for about three years. Jesse touched a lot of boxers lives in a very positive way. He is a good friend, mentor and was an inspiration to me. I was proud to be his teammate. When he boxed he was sweet, hard to hit and he could punch…..hard. Jesse coached all the 1972 USAF boxing team in the National AAU,” said Nick Wells.
Valdez was asked to go to Poland on the USA team by Robles whose father had a gym that Valdez was helping with the kids. “The Holy Spirit said why do you need to go. Also veteran USA team official Bob Surkant who was a father figure to me advised me not to go. So I told Robles I wasn’t making the trip. I almost fought Robles at the 1964 Olympic Trials,” said Valdez. Other boxers who claimed to be asked but didn’t make the trip were Jimmy Clark, Marvis Frazier, Bobby Czyz, Robert Hines and Davey Armstrong. The plane went down in Warsaw, Poland, killing all 87 aboard which included Robles.
“My wife Jackie and I got down on our knees and prayed thanking God that I didn’t go. My whole life changed after that, my faith became my way of living,” said Valdez When he told me they were living in San Diego I told him we had a Calvary Chapelchurch there (Harvest Christian Fellowship) where Mike MacIntoshwas the pastor. Valdez couldn’t believe it for he attended that same church. Pastor Chuck Smith was the founder of Calvary Chapel. I’ve attended three of their churches on a week-end in 1989 after starting in Philadelphia. He and his wife Jackie (originally from Buffalo, NY) now attend a Calvary Chapel church in Albuquerque where Skip Heitzig is the pastor. They have two sons James (42) and Jeremy (40).
“My oldest brother (Steve) was on the Air Force team with Jesse and we met at numerous tournaments and went overseas together. He was the greatest amateur of all-time. He could beat you many different ways. I was in awe of him. We were roommates at the Olympics. He met my family. He was like a brother and really humble. He came back from Italy and gave a picture of him and the Pope to my father. He was someone you looked up to and wanted to be like. He was a real role model,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian)
Valdez told me “in 1972 I would spar with 156 pound team member Reggie Jones and I felt he stayed that heavy to avoid meeting me in the Olympic trials,” said Valdez.He said he worked with the Spinks brothers in 1976 and almost had to bring them home.
After leaving the Air Force, Valdez became a TV cameraman, first in Houston and then to San Diego. I told him I had notes that in 1974 he worked on the prison siege at the Huntsville, TX, State Prison. “I was sent to Huntsville where 5 prisoners were holding 5 guards as hostages,with (now well-known writer) Cal Thomas who was the reporter,” said Valdez. In 1976 Valdez working with the Spinks brothers and almost had to take them home.
In 1979 I was in Philadelphia at the Joe Frazier Gym where “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Marvin Stinson (1976 Olympic Alternate) and Leonard’s cousin O’Dell would be fighting in Philadelphia. The name Valdez came up and one of them informed me he was the one who started the bowing to the four corners prior to his fight. “I think I saluted but Correa did bow after that to the four corners. I would also go to my opponent’s corner after the fight before then returning to my corner,” said Valdez.
“Jesse Valdez, David Martinez and Mark Tessman were (boxers) who I wanted to be like,” said Termite Watkins. I got an email from him due to contacting the Texan boxers I had articles with and all Christians. Termite was 61-5-2 (42), and from Houston who fought for the WBC super lightweight title. He has a book called “Termite” about his experiences in Iraq as a pest control exterminator which is well worth reading. He’s a great friend and one of the most genuine and humble boxers I ever met. I’m honored to call him my friend today. We keep in touch on the phone. He may be the greatest amateur fighter I ever saw.
Valdez was kind enough to answer some questions.
KEN HISSNER: The first time I saw you was in the 1972 Olympics and was immediately impressed with your style of boxing. Was your coach Charles Cord responsible for that?
JESSE VALDEZ: In the long run I would say yes. I had him as my coach at a younger age.
KEN HISSNER: You winning the National AAU championship at 16 in 1964 defeating Quincey Daniels who was on the 1960 team did that qualify you as an alternate for that Olympic team?
JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Maurice Trilot of the Marines and was an alternate.
KEN HISSNER: Did you get involved with making the 1968 Olympic team?
JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Armando Muniz in the finals.
KEN HISSNER: What period of time were you in the Air Force?
JESSE VALDEZ: 1969-1972
KEN HISSNER: In 1972 you defeated Eddie Gregory (Eddie Mustafa Muhammad later) to qualify for the Olympic team. Was defeating him and Daniels two of your biggest wins prior to going to the Olympics?
JESSE VALDEZ: If I win I win but never think of who I fought.
KEN HISSNER: Were you still pretty active from 1972 to 1980 between your coaching at the 1975 Pan Am Games and still having some fights?
JESSE VALDEZ: I was an assistant at the 1975 Pan Am Games.
KEN HISSNER: Do you still stay in touch with any of your 1972 team members or have any re-unions?
JESSE VALDEZ: I don’t really except “Sugar” Ray Seales.
KEN HISSNER: Getting ripped off in the 1972 Olympics against the Cuban was that a deciding factor in not turning professional?
JESSE VALDEZ: I had two offers. One was to stay in Air Force as the boxing coach and from Bill Daniels owner of the Denver Rockets.
KEN HISSNER: How did the terrorist attack at the Olympics in Munich affect you and your teammates?
JESSE VALDEZ: We heard the gunfire. It was quite alarming.
KEN HISSNER: Not going to Poland in 1980 when their plane went down killing all aboard did that end your boxing career?
JESSE VALDEZ: It totally did. I was 35 at the time and figured at that age I was too old. Junior Robles convinced me to go but I changed my mind. He was among those killed on the airplane.
KEN HISSNER: I know you go back to Houston for some of the Golden Gloves tourneys. Are you completely out of training boxers now?
JESSE VALDEZ: Unless you’ve been in the ring it is hard to teach someone to box.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer questions and I have to tell you it is so rewarding to finally catch up to you.
JESSE VALDEZ: It was nice going back in time with you.
Five Keys to Victory for Kell Brook
Five keys to victory for Kell Brook
By: Kirk Jackson
Kell “The Special One” Brook 36-1 (25 KO’s) aims to defend his IBF welterweight championship for the fourth time facing Errol “The Truth” Spence 21-0 (18 KO’s) May 27th, at the Bramall Lane Football Grounds arena, in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.
In a battle of welterweight supremacy, this bout may shape out to be a career defining fight for Brook or a coming out party for Spence.
Each fighter is highly skilled and holds certain advantages. What are some factors determining the outcome?
One of the unique elements regarding Brook is his versatility. Brook has the ability to throw punches from different angles and can effectively throw a variety of punches with precision and power.
Possessing an excellent right hand lead and a right uppercut, Brook will have to emphasize landing these types of punches against Spence.
Brook also possesses one of the best 1-2 or (left jab, straight right hand) combinations in boxing. His jab will be crucial in regards to establishing range, locating his target and finding his comfort zone early in the fight.
Facing a southpaw,right hand proficiency is crucial. Although Spence has the edge is reach 72 inches compared to 69 inches for Brook and is the slightly taller man standing 5’9 ½” – Spence likes to fight on the inside to attack the body.
To ward off Spence’s pursuit and eventual attack, Brook may aim uppercuts down the middle, in between Spence’s high guard as he enters up close.
Alejandro Barrera 28-3 (18 KO’s) landed occasional right uppercuts and right hand lead punches when he fought Spencein November of 2015.
Brook may aim to do the same.
Is Brook the bigger man? Fellow welterweight Danny Garcia believes so talking to Boxingscene.
“I think the timing favors Spence a little bit because Brook just fought Triple-G [Gennady Golovkin]. All that weight, saying he couldn’t make the weight, to come back down, we don’t how he’s physically gonna feel.”
Brook however, altered his diet in preparation for his return to welterweight.
“First, we put him on a strictly-controlled keto diet for a couple of weeks which burns fat,” said nutrition expert Greg Marriott.
“If he spars in the morning, he’ll wake up at 7am and eat slow-release carbohydrates like a bowl of simple oats. An hour before he spars at 10am he has a fast-release carbohydrate like white bread with jam or honey,” Marriot continued.
“In the evening he’ll have a low-glycemic carbohydrate like sweet potato with lean fish.”
Diet and recovery is imperative to maintaining strength. This will allow Brook to fight at full effectiveness; he can fight on the inside and use his frame to keep Spence off balance and attempt to clinch whenever Spence tries to work inside.
Brook can nullify the inside attack like he did in route to defeating Shawn Porter for the IBF title back in August of 2014.
Brook’s power ties into his size and overall strength; he is considered a large welterweight and is rumored to walk around up to 180 lbs or higher when not preparing for a fight.
Brook not out of shape however, possessing the physique of a body builder.
Lead by nutrition expert Greg Marriott and his comprehensive dietary plan, Brook should maintain his strength leading up to his fight with Spence.
With 25 KO’s in 37 bouts, Brook boasts a KO ratio of 68%. He stopped two previous opponents, Kevin Bizier 25-3 (17 KO’s) and Frankie Gavin 24-3 (14 KO’s) prior to facing middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin this past October.
His stoppages against high quality opposition may be questioned, but even against the bigger man Golovkin, the reigning middleweight championwas rocked a few times.
At the very least, Brook possesses enough power to keep opponents honest. Those very weapons, Brook refers to as “Chocolate Brownies.”
For those believing Spence will easily walk through Brook,must think again.
“The Special One” has an underrated skill set and can do many things; inside fighting, slipping punches, effectively maneuvering on the inside and pushing off with his shoulders to create separation and different angles, pull back counters, etc.
Brook is crafty in the trenches, can disguise punches effectively and it can be argued he is more fluid – from a punch combination aspect compared to Spence. Brook also looks a shade quicker in regards to hand speed.
Brook has been here before, participating in five world championship bouts. He is the reigning IBF welterweight champion and held his own against the current unified middleweight champion of the world.
He has experience fighting in front of his hometown fans in Sheffield, Yorkshire. Brook has familiarity fighting in front of a large, ruckus audience, as he fought in front of 19,000 at the O2 Arena in London. Last thing he wants to do is loose in front of the hometown crowd for the second time.
Brook may want to use the elements at play to his advantage and jump on Spence early to create a level of doubt in his mind. Establish himself as the champion and control the fight. This will be key in defending his crown.
Why Is America Missing Out On Joshua-Klitschko?
Why Is America Missing Out On Joshua-Klitschko?
By: Sean Crose
A public workout was held Wednesday. In Wembley Stadium. In front of a significant, loud and very energetic crowd. With Michael Buffer introdrucing the fighters before they actually, you know, worked out. This, friends, was something special. And little wonder. For the first time since Mayweather-Pacuiao, the days are winding down to a legitimate superbout. For, in case you haven’t heard, rising British Star Anthony Joshua will be throwing down against former longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday in a battle for heavyweight supremacy. They fact that the two men will be fighting in front of 90,000 people – that’s 90,000 people – gives some indication as to just how big this match is.
While the fight is indeed finding itself onto sports’ pages in the states, it leaves this Yank feeling a bit sad that Joshua-Klitschko isn’t getting the attention it deserves here. Not sad for the fighters. Not sad for boxing. Sad for my countrymen. No kidding, I feel a bit down about this. For one of the single biggest sporting events of 2017 – if not THE single biggest – is happening this very weekend and few Americans are even aware of it. Oh, the fight will be there for us Amerians to watch – live on Showtime and later Saturday night on HBO – but how many of us will even know it’s on? And why are so many of us missing out on a major international sporting event?
First off, it helps if we face facts here. Boxing isn’t that big in the states anymore. Not when the name of Floyd Mayweather isn’t somehow involved. Boxing has done much of this to itself, of course, thanks to ridiculous management and a plethora of poorly judged fights. The American media has much to do with it, as well, however. The truth is, those who are supposed to get “the scoop” aren’t interested in the scoop when it comes to professional boxing (unless, again, Mayweather is involved). It’s hard for people to know about a major fight if the general media isn’t really discussing it…or it isn’t informing people of the sheer scope of the event.
Yet it’s not just the media who is to blame here. Americans interested in boxing can be an oddly indifferent bunch. “They both suck,” an individual training a young man on the pads in a local gym told me today. He was speaking, of course, about Joshua and Klitschko. Without giving another second of his time, the giver of that flip comment went back to work. Perhaps he just didn’t want a pain in the ass reporter in the gym…but I know of others with their fingers on the pulse who aren’t exactly jumping up and down over this bout, either. Is it because an American fighter isn’t involved? Maybe, but Alabama native Deontay Wilder is waiting in the wings with what seems to be intense interest. Wouldn’t that make American fans at least somewhat intrigued? Apparently not all of them. Unfortunately, America’s jaded boxing fans may have become way too hard to impress…suffice to say, we can forget about word of mouth spreading any kind of interest in this weekend’s bout.
Then, of course, there’s the issue of this weekend’s American television broadcasts Showtime has been doing a wonderful job with it’s boxing programing lately (while HBO seems too disinterested in boxing to even let subscribers know how disinterested it is), but this fight would have been perfectly suited to air on network television Saturday afternoon. It would then have gotten stray eyeballs from general sports, fans who would undoubtedly be impressed by the sheer size of Saturday’s event (it’s hard to keep 90,000 people from being noticed) and hopefully from the action inside the ring itself (both fighters can hit, after all). Sadly, though, the world’s newest superbout will be aired on the channels that give us “Shameless” and “Game of Thrones.” People will tune in, of course, but not as many as could or should have.
If anything, Joshua-Klitschko shows that boxing is far from dead. Too bad the American public isn’t being given the chance to realize it.
Rio 2016 Boxing Recap
Rio 2016 Boxing Recap
By: Matthew N. Becher
All the medals have been awarded and the Rio Olympics have finally come to a close with last night’s ceremonies. In the Boxing division a lot of great fights took place, future world champions got to display their talents to the masses and controversy still reared its ugly head as it always does in this sport. Here were some of the highs and lows of what took place in the past 2 weeks.
USA captures 3 medals:
The US team won more boxing medals then it has in over a decade. Nico Hernandez was able to win a Bronze medal to start off the pace. Shakur Stevenson lost a heartbreaking split decision to Cuban, and now two time Olympic Gold Medalist, Robeisy Ramirez. Stevenson was awarded a Silver medal and will now most likely look to turn professional. And rounding out the Americans that medaled, the Golden Girl, Claressa Shields took home the gold medal for the second time in two Olympics.
Uzbekistan ruled the podium:
The country of Uzbekistan took home 7 medals in all (3 Golds, 2 Silvers & 2 Bronze). They were represented from the smaller fighters to the bigger, and have now officially cemented their name onto the international scene with the showing in these games.
Hasanboy Dusmatov, the Light Flyweight Gold Medalist, was awarded the Val Barker trophy for the most outstanding male competitor. Dusmatov is also the first of the amateurs competing in this year’s Olympics to sign a professional contract. (He has signed on with South African Promoter Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves)
The Pro’s couldn’t cut it:
In a year that eliminated the head gear, the International Boxing Federation also allowed Professional fighters to compete with the Amateurs for the first time. This was a hot topic throughout the boxing world, with many seeing it an unfair advantage to let a seasoned veteran compete with amateur fighters. It turned out to be a non-topic. As most amateurs were not threatened by the professionals being allowed to compete, they proved themselves right. The two most well-known pros that turned out for the games, Hassan N’Daam of France and former world champion Amnat Ruenroeng could not get passed the first round and the round of 16 respectively. The amateur style was not to their ability and both will now have a difficult time with backlash in their pro careers.
Allegations of Fixed matches, again:
In the history of the games match fixing has been the black eye of the sport. The fights of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Roy Jones are two of the most famous that have ever taken place, and this year saw a few too many fights that seemed to follow suit.
AIBA was forced to take a look at fights that many felt were clearly swayed by dishonest referees and/or judges. AIBA issued a statement that agreed that some negligence may have played a role, but that no evidence could be found in the ‘fixing’ of fights. Several Judges and Referees were excused from the games early (though they were not named) and AIBA did not overturn any of the results. It is a very difficult process to manage the amateur boxing officials, but more thought and efforts need to go into the games. It seems that this happens in every Olympics now, and it is hurting the sport in a great deal.
Claressa Shields becomes history:
Claressa Shields is only 21 and may be the best female boxer on the planet. She capped off her time in Rio, the same way she did in London, with a Gold Medal. Shields became the first US boxer, Male or Female to win two gold medals. She was also awarded the Val Barker trophy for the Most Outstanding Female boxer in the games.
Shields right now is at the top of her sport and has options. She can show up again and go for the three peat, which only 3 boxers have ever done before. Or she can turn pro and try and weave her way through the Female boxing scene, which has historically not been so rewarding to its fighters.
Either way, she is a very bright star in the sport and she will be at the top for a long time.
See you all in four years, 2020, when Tokyo plays host.
2016 Olympics Underway As Americans Look to Seek Gold!
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!