US Olympic Men's Boxing Team 2012: Updated News and Analysis for America's Squad
One of the more intriguing American storylines to follow throughout the 2012 Summer Olympics centers around the United States boxing team’s quest for redemption. Despite consistently fielding a strong squad on paper, the team owns just one gold medal since the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Ga.
Light heavyweight Andre Ward, who defeated Belarus’ Magomed Aripgadjiev in the 2004 Games, is the lone American to secure the top spot on the podium during the last three Olympic runs. Over that span, Americans have claimed four bronze medals.
Comparably, between 1984 and 1996, the United States collected 14 gold medals. The Americans' supremacy in the international boxing ring was unquestioned, highlighted by a dominant 11-medal performance at the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Simply put, it’s been far too scarce that an Olympic gold medal boxing match ended with the “Star-Spangled Banner” blaring throughout the arena. This summer, a group of nine fighters hope to reclaim America's prominence in the global boxing scene by working through opponents and carving their name in Olympic lore.
Each has taken their own journey to London. All have the same ambition.
It’s time to bring boxing glory back to the red, white and blue.
Watch the slideshow to learn more about each of the uniquely amazing fighters who will represent America this summer.
Rau’shee Warren, Flyweight
Warren is the unquestioned veteran presence among this group. Despite being just 25 years old, the 114-pounder is the first athlete to qualify for three United States Olympic boxing teams.
The Cincinnati native surprised many when he qualified for the 2004 Games as a 17-year-old light flyweight competitor. Warren wasn't only youngest boxer in Athens; he was the youngest American male athlete in any event.
In his first Olympic appearance, Warren suffered a first-round defeat at the hands of China's Zou Shiming, who would go on to win a bronze medal. He then jumped up to the flyweight division and quickly became the United States champion in 2006.
In 2007, Warren won a World Amateur Boxing Championship in Chicago. A year later, he became the first American fighter to qualify for two Olympic Games since Davey Lee Armstrong (1972 and 1976).
The slight, yet tenacious Warren should be fueled by a disappointing result at the 2008 Games in Bejing. He was again bounced in the first round, this time by South Korea's Lee Ok-Sung, in a tightly-contested match that ended in a heartbreaking 9-8 decision.
Amazingly, this may not be Warren's final Olympic appearance. He's young enough to potentially contend for a spot on the squad in 2016, but rest assured he knows his clock is ticking when it comes to claiming an elusive Olympic medal.
He heads to London as a heavy favorite to advance to at least a quarterfinal match. That would put Warren in a position to fight for bronze, if not better.
Joseph Diaz, Bantamweight
This 18-year-old southpaw might be the most intriguing member of team USA, mainly because he is a largely unknown commodity.
Diaz became the first American fighter to officially qualify for the 2012 Games when he defeated 2004 silver medal winner Worapoj Petchkoo of Thailand on his way to the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships.
The 123-pound Southern California native won the United States Boxing Senior Nationals Featherweight Championship in 2010. He is the youngest member of America's Olympic boxing team and represents the community of South El Monte.
The kid they call Jo-Jo has been a dominant force in the amateur scene throughout much of his teens, but it remains to be seen how he handles himself against the world's toughest and most technical fighters.
While Diaz might not last long in London, he is a truly promising prospect worth keeping an eye on in 2012 and beyond.
Jose Ramirez, Lightweight
It's been 20 years since an American lightweight fighter earned an Olympic medal. They've all come home empty-handed since Oscar De La Hoya cruised to gold at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
Ramirez, an incredibly accomplished amateur boxer from Avenal, California, hopes to end the drought. The 19-year-old Mexican-American defeated 2008 Olympian Raynell Williams to qualify for the squad and has built up quite a track record despite his age.
Ramirez has been somewhat of a prodigious figure in the lightweight ranks. He is considered by many to be the top-ranked amateur boxer in America and owned eight major titles in the 132-pound weight class by the age of 18.
Remember, this is an extremely respected weight class that has included Hall-of-Fame caliber fighters like De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather. When pundits are comparing you favorably to names like those, it's a very big deal.
Many expect Ramirez to embark on a successful and lucrative professional boxing career sooner rather than later. Until then, there is business to take care of in London, where he is a prohibitive favorite to win gold.
Although Ramirez stunningly remains under the radar to many here in America, I expect you'll be hearing plenty about him this summer. He's simply too talented to go away quietly, even at the Olympic level.
Jamel Herring, Light Welterweight
Get ready to root for Jamel Herring. He figures to be the most likable member of this Olympic squad for a very simple reason: his day job.
Herring serves as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and calls his upcoming trip to London "a dream" (via BoxingNews24.com). The 26-year-old is a two-time Armed Forces National Champion and has served two tours as a member of the Marine Corps.
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Herring qualified for the 141-pound light welterweight slot in early May. The Coram, N.Y. native also won gold at the 2012 USA Olympic Team Trials.
He snared silver at the 2010 World Military Games.
Herring enters the 2012 Games as an underdog in his division, but underrate him at your own risk. Regardless of how Herring fares on the score sheet, expect every bout he competes in to be emotional for his teammates and viewers across America.
Errol Spence, Welterweight
When most sports fans think of the nickname "The Truth," they're likely to conjure up an image of Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce. That may change this summer when Spence puts his reputation on the line in London.
Dubbed "The Truth" due to his lack of flair or diva antics, Spence has been America's No. 1 ranked welterweight boxer for three years. The 152-pounder began training as a 15-year-old in his hometown of Dallas.
Shortly after learning the sport, Spence claimed a title victory in the Texas State Silver Gloves Championship. Today, the 22-year-old has the look of a legitimate medal contender.
Spence brings a deliberate approach to the ring and is about as technically sound as anyone on this team. Mentally, he is hardened and prepared for success.
Take, for instance, his recent interview NBC's Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate, in which he discussed the dream ending that could very well await him across the pond.
"I won the gold medal, and I'm on the podium hearing my National Anthem," Spence said. "I'll probably break down and cry at the podium."
Terrell Gausha, Middleweight
The Cleveland-born Gausha has been boxing since the age of 10 and is a five-time Golden Gloves Champion in his native city. He also won a national middleweight title in 2009.
However, he may be the most unlikely competitor on America's 2012 Olympic boxing roster.
Gausha opened a lot of eyes as he made a remarkable run through the 2012 USA Championship Tournament in Colorado Springs. He entered competition as an unseeded at-large fighter, but managed to take down multiple favorites who stood in his way, including the two top-ranked boxers in his weight class.
The 165-pounder qualified for Team USA with an impressive performance at the Americas Olympic Qualification Tournament in Rio De Janiero in early May. Gausha earned the gold medal in a group that included 19 national champions from throughout North and South American countries.
If he can carry his amazing momentum into Olympic competition, there's no reason to think that Gausha can't contend for a medal. This is a true underdog story worth following.
Marcus Browne, Light Heavyweight
Browne, a son of Staten Island, is a three-time New York Golden Gloves champion. Much of his amateur career has occurred under the spotlight.
That's what tends to happen when you grow up fighting in the world's largest media market. America's top-ranked light heavyweight boxer is prepared to take his show on the road, and he has the personality to become a global icon if he succeeds on the Olympic stage.
Browne qualified for the 2012 Games with a 12-6 decision over Felix Valera in the America's Qualifier Tournament in Rio de Janeiro. The 21-year-old is an exceptionally active fighter who tends to take opponents by storm early and often.
Andre Ward, the last American boxer to bring home a gold medal, was a light heavyweight. Browne may be destined to match Ward and has a clear path to the division quarterfinals if he keeps his technique tight.
Michael Hunter, Heavyweight
Hunter certainly has pedigree on his side.
The 23-year-old heavyweight is the son of Mike "The Bounty" Hunter, who was a fan favorite NABF heavyweight contender in the early 1990s. Junior brings the same sense of intimidation into the ring with him every fight.
He's a solid 6'2" and possesses a surreal blend of quickness and striking ability. Hunter reached the final round of the National Golden Gloves tournament at the age of 18 and hasn't slowed down since.
After narrowly missing out on making the United States' 2008 Olympic squad, he became the national champion in 2009. Hunter cut weight last year and has settled in at 201 lbs.
He was able to drop the pounds without sacrificing much strength while adding to his lateral movement and overall speed. The Las Vegas resident has spent substantial time sparring with Wladimir Klitschko, the sixth-longest reigning heavyweight champion of all time.
Hunter has the ability and training to take over the heavyweight bracket in London. His bouts should be highly entertaining and give the American audience a glimpse of this young man's charismatic personality.
Dominic Breazeale, Super Heavyweight
If I told you that Breazeale initially had ambitions for a future in professional football, what position would you suppose he'd play?
Linebacker? Defensive end? Certainly something aggressive on the defensive side of the ball, right?
This 6'7" specimen played quarterback at Northern Colorado, throwing for over 1,000 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a senior in 2006.
Breazeale, 26, is about as agile as someone with his frame can be. Physically imposing and athletically gifted, he has surged to the nation's No. 1 ranking in super heavyweight competition since shifting gears and trading in his helmet for a pair of gloves.
Though Breazeale remains a bit raw, he routinely overcome any deficiencies with athleticism and smarts. It's always tough to map out the super heavyweight field at the Olympics, but if Breazeale can survive any first-round jitters, he just might make a run for a spot on the podium.