(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – Three of USA Boxing’s fastest rising stars will represent the United States at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, August 16-28 in Nanjing, China. Newly crowned youth world champions Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) and Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) are slated to compete in the global, multi-sport event, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
The three-athlete squad is a large increase from the lone boxing athlete that the United States sent to the inaugural event in 2010. All three American boxers will enter the event as the favorites in their weight division following an outstanding showing for the United States team at the 2014 Youth World Championships, April 14-24.
A total of 62 boxers from nations across the globe will participate in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games with 50 male athletes and 12 female competitors vying for gold at the 2014 event. The sport of women’s boxing is making its Youth Olympic Games debut in Nanjing with competition taking place in the three Olympic weight divisions – flyweight (112 lbs/48 kg), lightweight (132 lbs/60 kg) and middleweight (165 lbs).
Gonzalez will be the first U.S. female boxer to compete in the Youth Olympic Games and she plans to extend her international winning streak, which currently sits at 12. The youngest member of a boxing family dynasty, Gonzalez is known for her aggressive style and tremendous punch output. Gonzalez is trained by her father and older brother, Joet, a 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Men’s Boxing participant and current professional boxer. A second Gonzalez brother, Jousce is also a current USA Boxing national team member.
Stevenson continues to put on history-making performances and the boxing prodigy hasn’t even celebrated his 17th birthday. The 2013 AIBA Junior Male Boxer of the Year claimed his second world title in just eight months at the recent youth world championships, and he has his sights squarely set on gold in Nanjing. Stevenson has spent most of his young life in the sweet science, taking up the sport at the age of five under the tutelage of his surrogate grandfather and trainer Willie Moses. A skilled technician in the ring, Stevenson made an impression of USA Boxing’s coaching staff in his first camp at the Olympic Training Center in 2013 and he’s failed to disappoint in the ring. He currently boasts a perfect 14-0 international record and plans to add another piece of history to his resume in Nanjing.
Rock is the least experienced member of the United States team, but that hasn’t stopped him from winning gold medals at both the Youth Continental and Youth World Championships this year. Despite having less than 30 bouts of experience on his resume, he has enjoyed quite a run in 2014. A native of boxing-rich Philadelphia, the 6-5 super heavyweight will look to win gold for his United States squad at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
The 2014 Youth Olympic Games will be the second edition of the summer event following the inaugural competition in 2010. The United States sent only one athlete, heavyweight Joshua Temple (St. Louis, Mo.) to the first event. Over 3500 athletes are slated to compete in 28 sports in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games with boxing competition running from August 23-27 at the Nanjing International Expo.
The three U.S. athletes competing in the event will not only gain valuable international experience but also receive important cultural education during their trip to China. The Youth Olympic Games integrates a unique culture and education program based around five main themes. The young athletes will learn about Olympism, social responsibility, skills development, well-being and healthy lifestyles at the event, during their Youth Olympic Games experience.
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).