Meet USA Boxing’s Youth Olympic Games Finalists
(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – Three reigning world champions from the United States will compete for gold medals at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games this week in Nanjing, China. The trio of talented young boxers has grabbed the attention of many at the highest levels of international boxing over the last two years and they will now vie for USA Boxing’s first-ever Youth Olympic Games gold medal.
Female lightweight Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) will compete in her championship bout on Tuesday with male flyweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) and male super heavyweight Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) boxing in Wednesday’s men’s final round action. The United States and boxing powerhouse Cuba are sitting atop the leaderboard at the event with both nations advancing three boxers to the finals at the Youth Olympic Games.
All of the Youth Olympic games boxing action can be viewed live at www.olympic.tv and archived bouts are available on the site as well by entering the athlete’s name in the search tab. NBC Sports Network will show highlights from the women’s boxing finals in their evening coverage from 7-9 p.m. ET on Tuesday and the men’s finals during their Wednesday evening broadcast from 6:30-7:30 p.m. ET.
Meet the United States Youth Olympic Games Finalists:
Male Flyweight Shakur Stevenson
Stevenson has been marking his place in the record books since his junior world championship title in 2013. His phenomenal run through the tournament and victories in additional international events earlier in the year grabbed the attention of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and the then 16-year-old received the international federation’s 2013 Junior Male Boxer of the Year award. The honor marked the first time a United States boxer ever received the award and fueled Stevenson’s motivation to continue his international winning streak.
He added another piece of history to his resume in April, becoming the first United States male boxer ever to win both a junior and youth world championship. The second straight world title made Stevenson a favorite to win gold in Nanjing and he has not disappointed his supporters with his performance thus far. Despite facing the best youth boxers on the planet, Stevenson has not lost a single round on any judges’ scorecard during the Youth Olympic Games. He plans to continue that run when he faces China’s LY Ping on Wednesday at approximately 2:15 p.m. local time (2:15 a.m. ET). The 17-year-old knows he will face a hostile crowd in his final round contest, but he looks forward to stepping up to the challenge when the pressure is the most intense.
Stevenson has loved the sweet science since he first entered a boxing gym at the age of five with his surrogate grandfather and trainer Willie Moses. Twelve years later, he still possesses a passion for the sport and dreams of winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Stevenson’s Road to the Championship Bout:
First round: dec. Daniel Asenov, BUL, 3-0
Semifinals: dec. Muhammad Ali, GBR, 3-0
Female Lightweight Jajaira Gonzalez
Like her male counterpart, Gonzalez has been on a successful run both nationally and internationally over the last two years. As part of the USA Boxing’s first junior women’s team to have a training camp at the Olympic Training Center and compete in international action, Gonzalez established herself with numerous victories. She took gold at the inaugural Junior and Youth World Championships in 2013, competing alongside 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields.
Gonzalez continued her success in the youth division in 2014, taking another gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games qualifier in April to clinch her spot in the Youth Olympics. Both nationally and internationally, Gonzalez overwhelms her opponents with her tremendous punch output and pressure. She will attempt to add yet another international victory to her tally in Tuesday’s final round contest with Ireland’s Ciara Ginty at approximately 4:45 p.m. local time (4:45 a.m. ET).
Following her victory at the Junior and Youth Open in January, Gonzalez chose to enroll in online classes and move to the Olympic Training Center for the first quarter of 2014 to focus fully on boxing. She is a product of the fighting Gonzalez family with her father serving as her trainer and three of her brothers competing in boxing as well.
Gonzalez’s Road to the Championship Bout:
First round: Bye
Semifinals: dec. Agnes Alexiusson, SWE, 2-0
Male Super Heavyweight Darmani Rock
Rock is the international newcomer on the USA Boxing squad, but his lack of experience hasn’t stopped this power-punching giant from finding a place atop the medal stand. A native of boxing-rich Philadelphia, Rock burst on to the national scene at the 2014 Junior and Youth Open in January. He immediately caught the eye of USA Boxing’s coaching staff and was asked to move to the Olympic Training Center in preparation for the Youth World Championships. Rock and his parents allowed him to make the temporary move and the decision paid off with multiple international gold medals.
He has won both a Continental Championship and world title since the start of the 2014 and entered the Youth Olympic Games as the favorite to win another gold medal. With three TKO victories en route to his world title in April, Rock has built a reputation as a power puncher and had opponents pull out of scheduled bouts with him at both the World Championships and Youth Olympics. Rock took up the sweet science at the encouragement of his father following fights outside the ring in Philadelphia.
He will compete in his third international gold medal bout of the year in a Youth World Championships final round rematch with Peter Kadiru of Germany at approximately 4:15 p.m. local time (4:15 a.m. ET).
Rock’s Road to the Championship Bout:
First round: won on walkover over Kevin Espindola, ARG, W/O
Semifinals: dec. Marat Kerimkhanov, Russia, 2-1
Bios on each of three finalists are attached.
United States Final Round Schedule
Tuesday, August 26
Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif./USA vs. Ciara Ginty, IRL (4:45 p.m. local time/4:45 a.m. ET/1:45 a.m. PT)
Wednesday, August 27
Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J./USA vs. LY Ping, CHN (2:15 p.m. local time/2:15 a.m. ET/11:15 p.m. PT)
Darmani Rock, Philadelphia, Pa./USA vs. Peter Kadiru, GER (4:15 p.m. local time/4:15 a.m. ET/1:15 a.m. PT)
USA Boxing, as the national governing body for Olympic-style boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).