2008 Oylmpics Bring Back Olympic Boxing Past
By Bob Carroll, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 14, 2008) DoghouseBoxing.com  
The year was 1984, and the summer Olympics were back in the United States once more. Just 4 years after a group of United States hockey playing youngsters turned the winter Olympics on their ear by beating "The Evil Empire" known as the USSR, in a game that will live forever in our minds as "The Miracle on Ice", the Los Angeles area would host the Games of the XXIII Olympiad. The US had boycotted the summer games in Moscow, just 4 years earlier in 1980, and now it was the Eastern Communist Bloc that would boycott these summer games. The USSR and East Germany were among the stronger competitors that decided not to send their athletes to LA for the games. The buzz surrounding these games was one of diluted competition.

I remember my dad Frank "Butch" Carroll making a comment, just months before the start of the 1984 summer games, that the USSR and its followers were actually doing their boxing teams a huge favor by not allowing their teams to match up against the strongest US boxing team he has ever seen. I will forever remember how true that statement played out in those games. The 1984 US Olympic team has gone down in history as one of the strongest teams in Olympic history.

The talent on that team was unparralled by what any other nation could throw. Boxers who would win fight after fight, would go on to legendary careers, some even Boxing Hall of Famers. The team was lead by a light heavyweight from the Atlanta Georgia area, Evander Holyfield, who was basically cheated out of a gold medal by a bad referee decision to DQ him for a late hit at the bell in the semifinals and wound up with a bronze medal. Although replays would show the punch in question was thrown just before the bell sounded, Holyfield was DQ'd against the eventual silver medalist, New Zealand's Kevin Barry. At the medal ceremony, Barry pulled Holyfield up onto the silver medalists platform and raised Holyfield's arm in victory.

The 1984 Olympic boxing team also boasted gold medal winners in nine of the twelve weight classes. Gold medal winners such as future world champions Meldrick Taylor (featherweight division), Pernell Whitaker (lightweight division), Mark Breland (welterweight division), and Frank Tate (light middleweight division). Whitaker was enshrined in Canastota's International Boxing Hall Of Fame in 2007. Breland, Tate and Taylor all went on to be headliners in the pro circuit for years.

Also included in the medals that year was Paul Gonzales (gold medal at light flyweight), Steve McCrory (gold medal at flyweight and brother of welterweight champion Milton McCrory), Jerry Page (gold medal at light welterweight), Henry Tillman (gold medal at heavyweight), Tyrell Biggs (gold medal at super heavyweight), and future light heavyweight champion Virgil Hill (silver medal at middleweight). In fact the only US boxer to fail to medal in the 1984 summer games was bantamweight Robert Shannon. In a tragic twist, gold medalist Steve McCrory died in August of 2000 after a long battle with an illness. He was 36.

As I sit and watch the 2008 summer games, I harken back to the words of my father, "the strongest Olympic boxing team he has ever seen" and how wise he was about that team, even into the 1984 team's proven pro careers. Butch still to this day touts the Olympic and professional career of the 1984 youngsters, but when asked about the 2008 team, has guarded optimism.

To hear more from Bob, Butch and "THE Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr., listen to their boxing radio show "Fightin' Words", broadcast worldwide via the internet on www.1490wwpr.com. For more on the show, log onto the shows website at http://www.fightinwordsonline.com.

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