What's Wrong with Olympics Boxing for the USA?

By Robert Jackson: Sitting and watching Olympic Boxing in the late afternoons this past week I can't help but notice how PATHETIC USA Olympic Boxing has become. Is it me or are USA Olympic boxers being cheated out of legitimate wins? Is it me or are some USA Olympic boxers showing poor sportsmanship in deference to these seemingly unfair decisions? Is it me or are USA Olympic boxers totally unprepared for and unfamiliar with Olympic Style scoring?

Listening to Teddy Atlas and Bob Papa's commentary and particularly Atlas' "boxing briefs" it reminds me too much of Friday Night Fights where Atlas does a similar bit. Papa and Atlas chide US fighters for not using the jab, for not having a fighting identity, not going to the body and then finally when all is lost the flawed scoring system becomes the culprit.

What I don't get is this, the Europeans, Asians, Cubans and Africans get it so why not fighters from the MOST powerful nation on the face of the Earth?

My take on the USA Olympic boxing failure is similar to the Olympic Basketball failure of the past 3 Olympic games. These sports failed to master the Olympic versions of their sport which has different rules and requires different technique and tactics to be successful. It seems like during this Olympics at least USA Basketball has got it RIGHT!

Let's talk about technique, for example the 'jab' in professional fighting is THE most useful tool a fighter can have, in Olympic bouts landing a jab is rarely scored in favor of other straight punches and hooks to the head which are scored heavily. Not having an identity may be more tactics then technique but I'll discuss it here anyway, it seems America's counterpart Olympic fighters of the world have mastered both infighting and outfighting so to lock into any identity would be an exercise in futility. Going to the body is another weakness that was mentioned and other than using this technique to break a fighter down to set up the KO, it's a waste of scoring opportunity, fact is in Olympic Boxing head shots are scored more heavily. I did notice that US Olympian Andrade did go to the body a lot during the fight where he was eliminated, he was never able to get the KO that he was setting up with those body shots, in the meantime his opponent was scoring heavily with the blows that counted.

Counterpunching seems to me to be the most valuable asset of an Olympic fighter, I couldn't help but notice that the most successful Olympians were very good at making their opponents miss
and then retaliating with scoring blows. I also noticed that the successful Olympians exhibited GREAT footwork and mobility positioning themselves at angles to their opponents giving them offensive and defensive advantages, American Olympics fighters in contrast stood squarely in front of their opponents! Mobility of the successful Olympic fighters amounted to GREAT ring generalship which allowed all of the judges to see what punches were being landed and give the fighter benefit of the doubt when clear view wasn't available. Other successful Olympians set traps and didn't overthink their intentions in a fight they just knew how to let the fight come to them, American fighters always seemed to be looking for an angle, looking for a setup, which never materialized because their opponents never gave them the time to work their angle. In short American Olympians fought more of a "Professional Style" where thinking is a valuable component of a fighters overall skills, whereas in Olympic style boxing "doing" is more valuable than "thinking about what you're going to do". Furthermore, knockdowns and standing 8's don't count for more than 1 pt and with headgear on its harder still to get a KO! American Olympians have a KO mentality rather than just to go in and throw as many punches as they can and win the fight.

Tactics and techniques needed to overhaul a failed boxing system might be to fight in more international meets on foreign soil where its not guaranteed that you will get the victory and then improve on mistakes to the point where you can get the victory. Get away from the "Professional Style" mindset KO's are not important in international Amateur boxing. Learn to infight and outfight WELL rather than identifying and sticking with one style. Mobility and footwork need to be improved. Better "slip and counter", "duck and counter", and "catch and counter" skills need to be developed with the countering blow being a head shot rather than a body shot. Concentrate on throwing scoring blows rather than blows that donot count. Stop complaining about the System instead try to master the system and ALWAYS exhibit GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP even in defeat.

A simple change in the scoring system would be to allow for 2 pts to be added for a scoring punch that results in a standing 8 count or a knockdown. That's my take what's yours?

Article posted on 22.08.2008

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