Olympic Boxing 2012: Why US Needs to Overhaul Its Program
After a horrid showing at the Olympics, the U.S. boxing program is in need of a total overhaul.
Only one week into the London Games, the once-storied Team USA boxing team has exactly one athlete remaining on the men's side.
Actually, earlier on Friday evening the U.S. believed they were totally done at the Olympics. But Errol Spence won a ruling from the amateur boxing's governing body, and now he gets to advance to the quarterfinals (h/t Ryan Maquinana, nbcolympics.com).
Still, even with Spence's victory in the appeals court, this Olympics is a huge failure for USA boxing.
This is a program that used to trot out all-time greats. Muhammad Ali won gold for the U.S., so did Oscar De La Hoya, hell, even Floyd "Money" Mayweather won a bronze back in 1996.
Now, the U.S. men's team is struggling to even get boxers into the quarterfinals, let alone the medal matches.
In 2008 the men took home one measly bronze medal, and there's a very good possibility that 2012 will be the first Olympic games America will fail to medal in boxing since 1904.
These results reflect very poorly on the athletes, but the issue is deeper than that.
Its foundation, or really the lack thereof, is the problem.
Unlike many other Olympic sports, there is no push for the boxers to work out at a national training center together. Mostly, the athletes work with their own coaches, and then every four years they arrive to compete for a spot on the team.
Is the USA boxing program broken?
It also doesn't help that young boxers must keep their amateur status to compete in the games. This means many talented boxers forgo their eligibility for the Olympics in order to compete professionally and earn a living.
But the biggest killer of them all is that boxing is no longer a top-tier sport in America. The most talented youths flock to football and basketball, and even MMA has moved ahead of boxing for many kids.
The U.S. needs to find a way to curb all of these things.
Start at the grassroots and get kids interested in boxing again. Establish camps and clinics throughout the country for young talents, and most importantly, bring the potential Olympians together in one place to train.
This is the only way to reestablish America's boxing prowess.
If not, the U.S. will be heading home medal-less for years to come.
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