The Olympic Games - A Great Time For boxing

By James Slater: The 2008 Olympic games are soon to be upon us. Always a great time for boxing and its fans, the Olympics quite often give the sport the superstars of the future. It's always fun watching the games, trying to spot the world champions of the future.

It's not always the gold medallist that goes on to become the next big thing in the pro ranks, though. Many times in history we have seen a guy who went out having come up just a bit short in the Olympics as far as the gold medal is concerned, only to go on to dominate in paid boxing. The name Evander Holyfield springs to mind. Wining "only" a bronze when he was expected to go further at the 1984 L.A games, "The Real Deal" arguably eclipsed the achievements of any other member of his squad as a pro. While sometimes the opposite is the case. Take a fighter like Henry Tillman, for example. Tillman won a gold medal, also in '84, yet proved to be a bust at pro level. The same could also be said of 2000 gold winner Audley Harrison.

Sometimes, however, a fighter who captures gold goes on to match his feat in the pro game. Indeed, 1992 gold medal winner Oscar De La Hoya proved to be just as much of a success as a professional as he was when wining U.S.A's only gold in Barcelona. And there have been many other genuine stars of boxing who first came to public prominence whilst fighting for their country in the Olympics. That's why, when watching the games in Beijing that start tomorrow, we know there just might be a chance we could be seeing the next Sugar Ray Leonard, the next Floyd Mayweather, the next Pernell Whitaker or the next De La Hoya. That's the fun part of the games for every boxing fan.

In Particular, the heavyweight division has seen many of its future champions first getting noticed as Olympians. The games of the 1960s, for just one decade, gave us no less than three all-time greats of the heavyweight division, in Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and George Foreman. In other years, the games have given us such exciting fighters as Lennox Lewis, Ray Mercer and Riddick Bowe. And then there are the Olympic big guy standouts who chose not to turn pro. How special could Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon have been had they fought professionally?

Unfortunately, and more than a touch shockingly, America has not got one super-heavyweight boxer fighting in Beijing. However, team U.S.A does have one heavyweight boxer, so the 2008 games may still provide us with one future heavyweight star. There really are too many great Olympian's who sparkled when boxing in the colours of their country to name. But if the games in Beijing give us another fighter who is on a par with men like Laszlo Pap, Floyd Patterson, Michael Spinks, Dick McTaggart, Meldrick Taylor, Joel Casamayor or any of the other great names mentioned above, we will be very fortunate.

Boxing always needs new stars, and one of the best places for them to be unearthed is at the Olympic games. The last Olympics gave us Yuriorkis Gamboa, Amir Khan and Alexander Povetkin, to name but three medal winners. Who will this year's games give us!?

Article posted on 08.08.2008

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