Countdown to the 2012 London Olympics is now at 243 days. Qualifying for the Olympics has always been a monumental task. It’s certainly tougher than getting started in the professional ranks. Olympic-style boxing features 10 weight classes for men and just three for the women as opposed to 17 for the men and women in the professional ranks.
To qualify you need to be at least 17 years old, not more than 34 and extraordinarily dedicated, which means you’ll do almost anything to win the gold. And the competition comes from everywhere. You’ll have to face the Russian, Pan American, European, Australian, AIBA World Boxing, Asian, Oceanian and the Southeast Asian Games champions.
While most of us were enjoying Thanksgiving, the two U. S. boxing teams were competing far from home. Five U. S. boxers took part in the Olympic Test Event in London, November 24-27, while a second squad was at the World Cup of Petroleum Countries, on the same dates, competing in Surgut, Russia. All this before traveling to the Ukraine for a dual mete.
Since it’s become the norm for every sport to hold an official test event prior to the Olympic Games at the host venue, the U. S. sent a mixed squad of three male boxers and two female boxers to compete in London’s Olympic Test Event. The U. S. squad consisted of female lightweight Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.), male light welterweight Jamel Herring (Coram, N.Y./Camp Lejeune, N.C.), female middleweight Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.), male heavyweight Joseph Williams (Queens, N.Y.), and male super heavyweight Lenroy Thompson (Lenexa, Kansas).
The five weight classes were dictated to USA Boxing by AIBA, the International Federation for Olympic-style boxing. The London Test Event took place at the ExCeL Centre, which will serve as the boxing venue for the 2012 Olympic Games. ExCeL will host seven Olympic and six Paralympic events: Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Weightlifting, Wrestling, Boccia, Paralympic Table Tennis, Judo, Powerlifting, Sitting Volleyball and Wheel Chair Fencing.
USA Boxing’s National Coaches Joe Zanders of Long Beach, CA and Gloria Peek of Norfolk, Va. are leading the athletes into action with Jose Martinez of Bryan, Texas serving as Team Manager.
Ken Porter (Akron, Ohio), Ed Rivas (Abilene, Texas) and Everette Elliston (Denver Colo.) were coaching the team at the World Cup of Petroleum Countries with Bruce Kawano (Pearl City, Hawaii) serving as the Technical Advisor, and Ken Buffington (Marshalltown, Iowa) as the Team Manager.
The Team USA squads were selected based upon their performance at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Men and the 2011 USA Boxing National Championships for females.
Male heavyweight Joseph Williams (Queens, N.Y.) won the lone USA victory of the opening two days at the Olympic Test Event. He defeated Simon Vallily of Great Britain in their first round match-up Thursday. Williams was set to face Kamran Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan in Saturday’s semifinal action for a berth in the finals.
At the World Cup of Petroleum Countries in Surgut, Russia, Errol Spence (Desoto, Texas) won a convincing 25-5 decision over Ramal Amanov of Azerbaijan in their welterweight showdown. Lightweight Toka Kahn Clary (Providence, R.I.) won the second U.S. victory of the opening day with a 9-5 decision over Igor Osipov of Moldova in their Thursday match-up.
Female flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) enjoyed a successful opening bout as well, taking a 21-16 victory over Nandintsetseg Myagmardulam of Mongolia in Friday’s opening session. Male heavyweight Jordan Shimmell (Hudsonville, Mich.) also claimed a victory in a later session, winning a 10-8 bout over Russia’s Abdulkhamid Nurmagomedov.
Male light welterweight Jamel Herring (Coram, N.Y.) and female lightweight Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) both dropped opening round contests to home nation foes. In Surgut, female middleweight Tika Hemingway of Pittsburgh, Pa. and male middleweight Antoine Douglas of Burke, Va. lost their first round match-ups on Friday while male flyweight Shawn Simpson of Chicago, Ill. fell to a home nation opponent in Friday’s competition.
Olympic Test Event results, London, England
Thursday, November 24 results:
141 lbs/male: Josh Taylor, GBR won by decision over Jamel Herring, Coram, N.Y./USA, 9-7
201 lbs/male: Joseph Williams, Queens, N.Y./USA won by decision victory over Simon Valilly, GBR, 15-11
Friday, November 25
132 lbs/female: Natasha Jones, GBR, won by decision over Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash./USA, 23-15
World Cup of Petroleum Countries, Surgut, Russia
Thursday, November 24
165 lbs/female: Elena Vystropova, AZE won by decision over Tika Hemingway, Pittsburgh, Pa./USA, 7-4
132 lbs/male: Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, R.I./USA won by decision over Igor Osipov (Moldova), 9-5
152 lbs/male: Errol Spence, Desoto, Texas/USA won by decision over Ramal Amanov, AZE, 25-5
165 lbs/male: Viktor Kotyuzchanskiy won by decision over Antoine Douglas, Burke, Va./USA
Friday, November 25
112 lbs/female: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas/USA wins by decision over Nandintsetseg Myagmardulam, MON, 21-16
114 lbs/male: Semen Stepanov, Russia, won by decision over Shawn Simpson, Chicago, Ill./USA, 17-6
141 lbs/male: Islam Mamaev, Russia, won by decision over George Rincon, Carrollton, Texas/USA,14-10
201 lbs/male: Jordan Shimmell, Hudsonville, Mich./USA won by decision over Abdulkhamid Nurmagomedov, Russia 10-8
Today’s matches: Saturday, November 26
165 lbs/female: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, MD/USA versus winner of Great Britain vs. Australia
201+ lbs/male: Lenroy “Cam” Thompson, Lenexa, Kansas/USA versus Evgenios Lazaridis, Greece