|Who will win 2012 Olympics and the Val Barker Trophy?
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Oct 26, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
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
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
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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