USA Amateur Boxers compete in Olympic dress rehearsal

In Friday's lightweight bout in the Olympic Test Event in London, Queen Underwood of Seattle Washington failed to get passed the formidable Natasha Jones of Great Britain. Final tally 23-15, decision for Jones.

Countdown to the 2012 London Olympics is now at 244 days. Qualifying for the Olympics has always been a monumental task. It’s certainly tougher than getting started in the professional ranks. Olympic-style boxing features 10 weight classes for men and just three for the women as opposed to 17 in the professional ranks.


To qualify you need to be at least 17 years old, not more than 34 and extraordinarily dedicated. In other words you’re committed to do almost anything to win the gold. Your competition comes from everywhere. To win you’re going to have to withstand a challenge from the Russian, Pan American, European, Australian, AIBA World Boxing, Asian, Oceanian and the Southeast Asian Games champions.

While most of us were enjoying Thanksgiving, the two U. S. boxing teams were competing far from home. There were five U. S. boxers taking part in the Olympic Test Event in London, November 24-27, while a second squad was at the World Cup of Petroleum Countries on the same dates competing in Surgut, Russia. All this before traveling to the Ukraine for a dual mete.
The must see London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay route animation

Since it’s become the norm for every sport to hold an official test event prior to the Olympic Games in the host venue, the U. S. sent a mixed squad of three male boxers and two female boxers to compete in London’s Olympic Test Event. The U. S. squad consisted of female lightweight Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.), male light welterweight Jamel Herring (Coram, N.Y./Camp Lejeune, N.C.), female middleweight Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.), male heavyweight Joseph Williams (Queens, N.Y.), and male super heavyweight Lenroy “Cam” Thompson (Lenexa, Kansas).

The five weight classes were dictated to USA Boxing by AIBA, the international federation for Olympic-style boxing. The London Test Event took place at the ExCeL Centre, which will serve as the boxing venue for the 2012 Olympic Games. ExCeL will host seven Olympic and six Paralympic events: Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Weightlifting, Wrestling, Boccia, Paralympic Table Tennis, Judo, Powerlifting, Sitting Volleyball and Wheel Chair Fencing.

USA Boxing’s National Coaches Joe Zanders of Long Beach, CA and Gloria Peek of Norfolk, Va. are leading the athletes into action with Jose Martinez of Bryan, Texas serving as Team Manager.

Ken Porter (Akron, Ohio), Ed Rivas (Abilene, Texas) and Everette Elliston (Denver Colorado) are coaching the team at the World Cup of Petroleum Countries with Bruce Kawano (Pearl City, Hawaii) serving as the Technical Advisor, and Ken Buffington (Marshalltown, Iowa) is the Team Manager.

The two Team USA squads were selected based upon their performance at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Men and the 2011 USA Boxing National Championships for females.

Male heavyweight Joseph Williams (Queens, N.Y.) won the lone USA victory of the opening two days at the Olympic Test Event. He defeated Simon Vallily of Great Britain in their first round match-up Thursday. He was set to face Kamran Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan in Saturday’s semifinal action for a berth in the finals.

At the World Cup of Petroleum Countries in Surgut, Russia, Errol Spence (Desoto, Texas) won a convincing 25-5 decision over Ramal Amanov of Azerbaijan in their welterweight showdown. Lightweight Toka Kahn Clary (Providence, R.I.) won the second U.S. victory of the opening day with a 9-5 decision over Igor Osipov of Moldova in their Thursday match-up.

Female flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) enjoyed a successful opening bout as well, taking a 21-16 victory over Nandintsetseg Myagmardulam of Mongolia in Friday’s opening session. Male heavyweight Jordan Shimmell (Hudsonville, Mich.) also claimed a victory in a later session, winning a 10-8 bout over Russia’s Abdulkhamid Nurmagomedov.

Male light welterweight Jamel Herring (Coram, N.Y.) and female lightweight Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) both dropped opening round contests to the Brits. In Surgut, female middleweight Tika Hemingway of Pittsburgh, Pa. and male middleweight Antoine Douglas of Burke, Va. lost their first round match-ups on Friday while male flyweight Shawn Simpson of Chicago, Ill. fell to a home nation opponent in Friday’s competition.

Olympic Test Event results, London, England

Thursday, November 24 results:
141 lbs/male: Josh Taylor, GBR won by decision over Jamel Herring, Coram, N.Y./USA, 9-7

201 lbs/male: Joseph Williams, Queens, N.Y./USA won by decision victory over Simon Valilly, GBR, 15-11  

Friday, November 25
132 lbs/female: Natasha Jones, GBR, won by decision over Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash./USA, 23-15

World Cup of Petroleum Countries, Surgut, Russia

Thursday, November 24

165 lbs/female: Elena Vystropova, AZE won by decision over Tika Hemingway, Pittsburgh, Pa./USA, 7-4

132 lbs/male: Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, R.I./USA  won by decision over Igor Osipov (Moldova), 9-5

152 lbs/male: Errol Spence, Desoto, Texas/USA won by decision over Ramal Amanov, AZE, 25-5

165 lbs/male: Viktor Kotyuzchanskiy won by decision over Antoine Douglas, Burke, Va./USA

Friday, November 25

112 lbs/female: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas/USA wins by decision over Nandintsetseg Myagmardulam, MON, 21-16

114 lbs/male: Semen Stepanov, Russia, won by decision over Shawn Simpson, Chicago, Ill./USA, 17-6

141 lbs/male: Islam Mamaev, Russia, won by decision over George Rincon, Carrollton, Texas/USA,14-10

201 lbs/male: Jordan Shimmell, Hudsonville, Mich./USA won by decision over Abdulkhamid Nurmagomedov, Russia 10-8

Today’s matches: Saturday, November 26

165 lbs/female: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, MD/USA versus winner of Great Britain vs. Australia

With personality plus, Cam Thompson of Lenexa, Kansas has been a big hit in England.

201+ lbs/male: Lenroy Thompson, Lenexa, Kansas/USA versus Evgenios Lazaridis of Greece

Lenroy “Cam” Thompson is 23 years-old, stands 6’3″ tall and weighs in the neighborhood of 210 pounds. Among his many accomplishments and titles, he’s won the U. S. National Championship in 2008 and 2010 and is the current National Golden Gloves Champion.

His route to becoming an Olympian began six years ago when at the age of 17, he first visited a boxing gym to lose weight. His dream showed signs of becoming a reality after his victory in this year’s Olympic trials over Laron Mitchell, a fast southpaw from San Francisco; second up came a win over his arch rival Dominic Brazeale, the 6’6” 280 pound giant from Alhambra, CA, then came the win over Andrew Shepard, an All Army Boxing Champion out of Colorado Springs, Colorado and then came the victory in the finals, a rematch with Mitchell. The wins made him the USA’s representative, perhaps the next Mohammad Ali.

And there’s one more thing about the amiable Mr. Thompson: he fights every bout wearing pink trunks and matching pink headgear. The pink attire began as a way to draw attention to women’s breast cancer, a cause near and dear to his heart.

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