Meet the 2021 USA Boxing Olympians
Announced yesterday via a press release provided by USA Boxing, the U.S. Olympic team is now set for Tokyo 2021, as due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Central America, the qualifiers are no longer occurring. The selected fighters were chosen based on the world rankings
“These six boxers have been staples within our program and have established themselves amongst the world’s best by their performances during the past quad,” stated USA Boxing High Performance Director Matt Johnson. “Now it is time for them to perform at the world’s biggest stage in Tokyo.”
Sadly, the following fighters, Anthony Herrera (men’s flyweight), Bruce Carrington (men’s featherweight), Charlie Sheehy (men’s lightweight), Joseph Hicks (men’s middleweight), Rahim Gonzales (men’s light heavyweight), Darius Fulghum (men’s heavyweight), Andrea Medina (women’s featherweight) will not get a chance to qualify.
Here are some quick thoughts on each of the fighters on the team.
Delante “Tiger” Johnson, welterweight
A year-and-a-half ago a close friend of mine, Prenice Brewer, a former professional boxer, who is now a great trainer, called me out of the blue. He told me to drive down to Oxnard, California, and see “Tiger” Johnson. I did, and I was impressed. Johnson qualified for the Olympic Trials, at the last qualification event for the Olympic Trials, and stood out.
Johnson is one of our most talented fighters in the country, and has a high-ceiling when it comes to his potential. Johnson is a great distance control, but very cerebral with the ability to hit people and make them pay.
Johnson will be in the unique and historic situation of being one of only two men to qualify for the Olympics, as stated above the qualifiers are no longer happening, and now Johnson is one of only two fighters in the top-fifteen of the world rankings, those fighters will automatically qualify.
Johnson joins Ricardo Williams Jr, Terrell Gausha, and Charles Conwell, as Cleveland, Ohio-based boxers, to qualify for the Olympics, with only Williams Jr. winning a medal, a silver to be exact in 2000 Olympics.
Johnson has a very strong chance of medaling with the only two factors playing against him being inactivity due to COVID-19, and that Johnson at times fights in a more pro-style looking to land cleaner punches, and less about the volume, as world-level amateur boxing can often come down to who throws the most landed punches as opposed to the most meaningful punches.
Johnson is extremely talented, and a fighter – fight fans should be excited to see in the Olympic Games, and beyond.
“My struggles are my stripes, and I wear them on my back, so that the people around me can see that even when you’re living in a jungle, you can still chase your dreams,” said a passionate Johnson via press release. “I am not only doing this for my city, but for my two coaches, Dante Benjamin Sr. and Clint Martin, whom I lost during my journey to these Games.”
Richard Torrez Jr., super heavyweight
The captain of the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team, Richard Torrez Jr. of Tulare, California, was long thought to be a favorite for a medal, and still, I believe most think that, yet a brutal KO loss to Bakhodir Jalolov, a current pro signed to DiBella Entertainment, in September of 2019, has now raised some questions, as well as ethical questions around amateur boxing.
Torrez Jr. has been the most dominant men’s super heavyweight since Riddick Bowe and Tyrell Biggs, which is quite a compliment as those two Olympic medalists, fought amateur in the ’80s, Biggs winning gold in 1984, and Bowe winning a silver in 1988, and can’t recall another American super heavyweight with as much excitement around himself as Torrez, not even Deontay Wilder in 2008.
Torrez Jr., a tad undersized at the weight class at 6-foot-2-inches tall, by modern super heavyweight standards, is an explosive power-puncher who seemingly stopped most of his American rivals outside of Amisel Jimenez and Jeremiah Milton, in the amateurs.`Torrez Jr. has been the man to beat, and no one could do it, even after his loss in 2019, but after his loss to Jalolov we now have to see what is next for the generational super heavyweight as he has fought just a selective few times since making the team, after a box-off in early 2020.
Torrez Jr. not unlike Johnson is a fighter I am expecting to medal in the Olympics.
Torrez Jr should be a major focus of the telecast and content leading up to the Olympics, as he is a magician, a pro boxer, vlogger, and flat-out interesting person.
“Everyone is happy they’re going to the Olympics, it’s everyone’s dream, but I need to be there,” said Torrez Jr via press release. “The fire that was instilled in me before I could even walk, that drives me to be the best, the fire that has been in my family for generations, has overflowed. It has set ablaze all my second options, and it has made ashes of any other possibility besides that of success.”
Virginia “Ginny” Fuchs, flyweight
The USA Boxing women’s team might be the best squad in the world, and Ginny Fuchs is one of the key components. Fuchs, a close friend of 2016 Olympian Mikaela Mayer, is 8-1 in international competition, and as a southpaw, who is one of the most fundamentally sound fighters on the team, and will be a tough out for anyone.
Her lone loss during 2020 was to a Bulgarian fighter, in Bulgaria, and by split decision, so for those keeping track at home, they might be able to read between the lines there.
Fuchs is the most experienced fighters on the team with documented international experience dating back to 2013, and world-class coaching staff around her with Kay Koroma.
Fuchs is a potential breakout star of the Olympics as a good run in the Olympics, combined with her battles with OCD, could make for great on-air segments, that could vault her in position to be a story arch for coverage around these games.
In terms of on-television coverage, I am expecting Ginny Fuchs and Richard Torrez Jr. to be the fighters that we see the most coverage around, and I believe both will deliver.
Who knows if Fuchs will go pro, but this Olympic run for Fuchs, should be a fun one to watch, as the LSU-grad, and Texas native, has worked most of her adult life to fulfill this dream.
“I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. I am so excited I can finally call myself an Olympian,” said Fuchs via press release. “With all this world has been through and having to postpone the Olympics a whole year, I am proud to say I am one of the participants in what will be known as the most recognized Olympics in history. I am ready to represent my country in the most respected way and bring home the gold!”
Rashida Ellis, lightweight
The sister, to two pro boxers, Golden Boy Promotions’ welterweight Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis, and super middleweight Ronald Ellis, Rashida Ellis is looking to show why boxing is the family business for Massachusetts boxing family.
The tough part is Ellis is in one of the hardest division, and even worse a current world champion Maiva Hamadouche, IBF women’s super featherweight world champion, is fighting at this division, and the odds on favorite, as she beat Ellis this summer. Ellis went 5-3 over the course of 2020 in international competition, but has all the traits of an elite fighter who can medal, but has to put together a great tournament, not unlike her USA Boxing teammate, who didn’t make the team, Andrea Medina, who had one of the most impressive runs of 2020.
Ellis will have a tough path to medal, but has the skills, pedigree, and a wealth of experience dating with a decade worth of high-level amateur bouts, and international experience stemming from 2015-onward.
“Qualifying for the Olympics has been one of my deepest dreams,” said Ellis via press release through USA Boxing. “I never doubt my ability. I have stopped being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited about what could go right. So, I embrace my mistakes and learn from them, as my mistakes have helped me improve and reach the Olympics. I don’t do easy; I make things happen. The hard work and dedication with effort and determination, I can succeed.”
Oshae Jones, middleweight
Oshae Jones was one of, if not the most dominant women’s boxer in America, prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Jones went 6-0 in international competition in 2020, and is poised to at the very least medal, though we have high hopes that she can bring back the gold medal for USA Boxing. Oshae Jones is a good body-puncher along with a southpaw, and present many different problems for fighters. On top of this, her father Otha Jones II, and brother Roshawn Jones, coached Charles Conwell in 2016, who was an Olympian, so this is the second consecutive Olympic year they will participate.
That is a huge confidence boast as Jones will have an experienced team both at Team USA Boxing, and with her family who got her to this point as well. Jones is must-see-television, and will make for great pro fights, once her amateur career is over.
“I may only take up one spot, but my one spot represents so much,” said Jones who looks to be symbol of hope for her community. “I’m beyond grateful for the chance to represent women, African Americans, my small city of Toledo, but most importantly, my country.”
Naomi Graham, heavyweight
Often overlooked and underrated Naomi Graham put together one of the best runs of any of the Olympians, post-COVID-19 shut downs, and compiled a stellar international record of 11-1, and silently is one of the odds on favorites to win gold at Tokyo 2021, despite not being brought up often.
Naomi Graham, who is also a member of the United States Army, has been fighting at a high level of competition for six years, and fighting internationally since 2018. Graham has a lot of experience and is extremely confident at the right time, I feel Graham is all, but assured to win a medal, but for her – we’re hoping to see her in the finals to pick up a gold or a silver, as Graham is truly one of the most dominant fighters in her division, sadly her division often just doesn’t get respect.
“It feels unreal that I am going to the Olympics,” Graham exclaimed via press release. “I continue to surprise myself by finding my own limits, and then having the courage to blow past them.”