As I am writing this post, the US Boxing Team is 6-1 in the Rio Games. This is awesome as we should see some medals coming out of the Games. It's been 2004 since America got a gold medal in Boxing (Andre Ward). Growing up I got to see Sugar Ray Leonard and the incredible '76 Team, and throughout the '80s some of boxing biggest stars came through the Olympics. In the 90s and early 2000s, the world surpassed us (Cuba, Russian, etc.) in the amateurs. Looking at the current team, it looks like they will have good results.
Now on to my experiences training with Olympics boxers. I had that opportunity to spar with 1988 Bronze Medalist Romalis Ellis and 1996 Bronze Medalist, Rhoshi Wells along with other talented fighters trying to make Olympic teams between '88 and '96. During the Atlanta '96 Games, our boxing club (Doraville Boxing) hosted training for teams competing. We sparred with fighters as they stayed sharp for the games. Working out with Romalis was incredible. He was a lightweight south paw who utilized the basics of the Jab Cross (one two). He would work that jab like a piston until he positioned himself to deliver a hard left. For several years he would give me the same answer after sparring. I would ask for advice and suggestions and he would give me the same answer, "Throw more punches." When I met Rhoshii, he was 15 and could beat most men. He won Bronze at the age of 18. He was always smiling and was technician. Both would go on to become top ranked professionals. Rhoshii was unfortunately killed several years ago in Vegas (shot by a punk).
In my last post I talked about what it felt like to have an Olympic Judo player put his hands on you. Well, you can't imagine what it's like to have an Olympic Boxer lay his hands on you in the square circle. You get hit over and over again and can't stop it. Because these athletes start so young and compete at the highest levels growing up, they are like professionals even as amateurs. They train with world class fighters all along.
In the mid 90s I had the privilege of fighting 1988 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Ray Downey of Canada. I took a fight on 2 days notice and went to Biloxi, MS. The fight was on the undercard of Kennedy McKinney (another Olympian). I did know who I was going to fight until press conference when the took a moment to recognize Ray for his accomplishment. I looked at my trainer who told me to take this fight without telling me who I was fighting (mistake #1). Anyway I survived a hard 6 round fight, but couldn't keep this guy from hitting me. What I learned is that it's hard to fight a guy who boxes for a living when you do it as a hobby (mistake #2). If you go into pro boxing you should fight a lot of amateur bouts and get the experience and never take a fight against a Olympian on 2 days notice (mistake #3).