The Olympic Games is viewed as an optimal platform for a boxing prospect to launch his career. Naturally, major promotional outfits and advisers heavily scout the Olympics in order to evaluate the world’s top amateur talent and make projections about which fighters can translate their in-ring success to the paid ranks.
Even for the most successful amateur fighters, the transition to professional boxing can sometimes be a difficult one and, once the headgear comes off and the glove size shrinks, even Olympic medalists and World Amateur Champions can be exposed.
The United States has the most storied Olympic boxing tradition of any nation, though the emergence of Cuba and former Eastern Bloc nations, as well as Russia, Germany and the UK has usurped traditional American dominance. The last truly deep U.S. boxing team competed at the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea, though that assertion shouldn’t diminish the accomplishments of other Americans in subsequent Olympiads.
Still, while the Olympics has proven to be a spring board for professional success and exposure in several memorable cases, it is perhaps more common to see Olympic participants who did not medal or non-Olympians currently holding world titles.
Qualifying for the Olympics is an arduous task and the nature of the selection and competition process inevitably makes participation, and especially medaling, an exclusive club. Furthermore, it is often said that the current structure and rules of amateur boxing prevent pro-style fighters from having success.
Now is not the time to get into the maddening shortcomings of amateur boxing; The Ring’s Olympic preview issue does an excellent job of this and confirms the happy news that the 2016 Games in Rio de Janerio will veer away from the electronic scoring that allows judges to score bouts as if playing Dance-Dance Revolution.
So, let’s look at some current fighters who have won Olympic medals and professional titles, a feat that is increasingly rare in an era where Olympic bouts are won on weak flurries instead of clear and effective punching (to both the head and body).