Who will win 2012 Olympics and the Val Barker Trophy?
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Oct 26, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
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Photo: Boxing Gold
The Val Barker Trophy is presented every four years to an Olympic boxing athlete who exemplifies style during competition. It does not always go to a Gold Medal winner. Roy Jones, Jr. can testify to that having won the trophy in 1988 after being robbed of a Gold Medal and settling for a Silver Medal. At the AIBA World Boxing Championships, in Baku, Azerbaijan, during September and October there were 64 boxers from 8 different weight categories qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Though there have been 3 triple Gold Medal winners only 1 of them won the trophy once. That was Teofilo Stevenson of Cuba in 1972 at Munich. The other 2, Lazlo Papp of Hungary and Felix Savon of Cuba never won the trophy. Since it was initiated in 1936 there have been 17 winners. All but 3 have won Gold Medals.

When started in 1936 Louis Laurie was the first winner. He was a Bronze Medal winner in the flyweight class representing the USA in Berlin. The USA has won the most trophies with 5 winners. Laurie turned professional and was 16-11-1 (2), out of Cleveland, OH, from 1937-40. He died in 2002 at age 85.

After 1936 there wasn’t another winner until 1948 when Gold Medalist George Hunter of the RSA (South Africa) won the trophy in the light heavyweight division at the London games. Hunter turned professional and was 13-6 (4) winning the South African 175 title. He died in 2004 at age 77.

In 1952 Norvel Lee of the USA team won Gold and the trophy at Helsinki. He never turned pro. He was from Bethesda, MD, and died at age 67. In 1956 Richard McTaggart of Great Britain won Gold at Melbourne and also never turned pro. He is 77 and from Scotland. In 1960 when Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali won a Gold Medal in the 175 division he was outvoted by Nino Benvenuti of Italy who won Gold in the welterweight division at Rome. He would go onto win the WBC/WBA light middleweight and middleweight titles as a pro posting an 82-7-1 (35) record. He is 73.

In 1964 Valeri Popenchenko of the URS (Russia) won the Gold Medal in the middleweight division in Tokyo. He was not allowed to turn professional. He died at the age of 37 in 1975 falling to his death on a construction site. In 1968 at Mexico City when George Foreman won the Gold Medal in the heavyweight division and walked around the ring waving the American flags he lost in the trophy voting to Philp Waruinge, a featherweight from Kenya who won the Bronze Medal. It’s been said he was 14-10-1 as pro. He died at age 66.

In 1972 Teofilo Stevenson of Cuba won the first of 3 Gold Medals in the heavyweight division and the trophy. Though rumored to come to the US to fight Muhammad Ali it would never take place. He is 59.

In 1976 when the USA had what most considered their greatest team Howard Davis, Jr., of Long Island, NY, won the trophy winning a Gold Medal in the lightweight division in Montreal. He barely survived the trials defeating Aaron Pryor and won over “Sugar” Ray Leonard in the voting. Davis was 36-6-1 (14) as a pro fighting for 4 titles but coming up short each time. He is 55 and has a son Dyah fighting pro.

In 1980 at Moscow Patrizio Oliva of Italy won a Gold Medal in the light welterweight division and the trophy. He was 57-2 (20) and the WBA light welterweight champion. He is 52. In 1984 in Los Angeles their own Paul Gonzales won a Gold Medal in the light flyweight division and the trophy. He was 16-4 (3) and the NABF flyweight champion. He out voted teammates Mark Breland, Meldrick Taylor, Virgil Hill, Evander Holyfield, Frank Tate and Pernell Whitaker who would all win professional titles. Some consider this the best USA team but since the Cubans and Russians didn’t attend it was a hollow victory.

In 1988 in Seoul Roy Jones, Jr., Jr. as mentioned earlier won the trophy after gaining a Silver Medal in the light middleweight division. He would go onto win the IBF 160, 168, IBF/WBC/WBA 175 and WBA heavyweight titles. He is 54-8 (40) and still competing at 42. In 1992 Roberto Balado of Cuba won the super heavyweight Gold Medal at Barcelona. He died at age 25 in a crash at a train crossing. In 1996 Vassily Jirov of KAZ won the light heavyweight Gold Medal at Atlanta defeating Antonio Tarver of the USA and would turn pro winning the IBF cruiserweight title and was 38-3-1 (32). His defeat by James Toney was one of the all time great cruiser title bouts. He is 37 and last fought in 2009.

Trophy winner in 2000 at Sydney Oleg Saitov of RUS (Russia) repeated winning a Gold Medal as he did in 1996. He finished with a Bronze Medal in 2004 losing to Bakhtiyar Artayev (KAZ) Kazakhstan who would be eventual Gold Medalist and win Val Barker Trophy. Saitov is 37. Artayev lost in the 2008 Olympics at Athens to James Degale who went on to win Gold Medal. At 25 he retired in 2008.

Vasyl Lomachenko (UKR) of the Ukraine won the trophy in 2008 at Beijing, China, in the featherweight division after winning the Gold Medal. In 2011 he qualified for the Olympics in London in 2012 in the lightweight division since there is no featherweight division in 2012. He was 1 of 8 who qualified in his division at the AIBA World Boxing Championships by winning over Cuba’s Yasnier Toledo in the finals.

When the AIBA championships concluded the Ukraine was tops with 4 Gold Medals and 1 Silver medal for a total of 5. Cuba was next with 2 Gold and 1 Silver medal for 3. Kazakhstan had a higher total medal count with 2 Silver medals and 2 Bronze medals but no Gold medals to total 4 medals.

Of the total 40 medals the USA and 8 other countries ended up with 1 Bronze medal each. Two-time Olympian Rau’shee Warren of the USA team was the lone medalist in the Flyweight division but became the first American to go to 3 Olympics. Misha Aloyan of Russia defeated Warren in the semi-finals and went on to win the Gold Medal. The USA team had 2 others that finished in the top 8 to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in Errol Spence in the Welter division and Joseph Diaz in the Bantam division.

Spence is from Dallas, TX, and a 3-time National champion. He defeated boxers from Iran, Canada and Hungary before losing to two-time world champion Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinal who went onto win a Silver medal.

Diaz is from S. El Monte, CA, and a two-time National champion. He defeated a boxer from Myanmar in the open round. Then he defeated 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Worapoj Petchkoom of Thailand in the second round. In the quarterfinal he lost to eventual Gold Medal winner Lazaro Alvarez from Cuba.

The USA leads with 5 Val Barker Trophy winners with Italy, Cuba and Kazakhstan having 2 each. Only the USA has had 2 consecutive winners. Remember, the Val Barker Trophy goes not necessarily to the best but the one with the most style!

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Recipients

Year
Location
Boxer
Nationality
Weight Class
Medal
1936 Berlin Louis Laurie  USA Flyweight Bronze
1948 London George Hunter  RSA Light Heavyweight Gold
1952 Helsinki Norvel Lee  USA Light Heavyweight Gold
1956 Melbourne Richard McTaggart  GBR Lightweight Gold
1960 Rome Giovanni Benvenuti  ITA Welterweight Gold
1964 Tokyo Valeri Popenchenko  URS Middleweight Gold
1968 Mexico City Philip Waruinge  KEN Featherweight Bronze
1972 Munich Teofilo Stevenson  CUB Heavyweight Gold
1976 Montréal Howard Davis, Jr.  USA Lightweight Gold
1980 Moscow Patrizio Oliva  ITA Light Welterweight Gold
1984 Los Angeles Paul Gonzales  USA Light Flyweight Gold
1988 Seoul Roy Jones, Jr.  USA Light Middleweight Silver
1992 Barcelona Roberto Balado  CUB Super Heavyweight Gold
1996 Atlanta Vassiliy Jirov  KAZ Light Heavyweight Gold
2000 Sydney Oleg Saitov  RUS Welterweight Gold
2004 Athens Bakhtiyar Artayev  KAZ Welterweight Gold
2008 Beijing Vasyl Lomachenko  UKR Featherweight Gold

 

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