Wednesday, September 19, 2007

USA Boxing Team: Trouble in Olympic City

The new 2008 U.S. Olympic Team was selected last month in the box-off trials in Houston, TX. I’m disappointed that Olympic representatives didn’t come shopping for fighters to the Jesse Harris Boxing Gym in Stroudsburg, PA. We have a few boxers with exceptional ability and strong work ethics. You know who you are.

Anyway, USA National Director of Boxing Dan Campbell has been under a lot of criticism for setting up a residential program. He’d been having difficulty with boxers who were receiving stipends for training at the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs and then didn’t show up. Campbell believes that a residential program is the answer.

Some of the coaches (who were parents in some cases) didn’t like the idea of turning over coaching control of young boxers they’d been training for a long time. We understand the attachment, but mommies, daddies, and coaches don’t accompany you to basic training, either. If the U.S. is serious about sending well-schooled boxers to the Olympics, then people should understand the need for them to be immersed in an environment where the National Director of Coaching has better focus and control.

I’ve no doubt that future Olympians will be cared for and nurtured at the Olympic Training Center just as they were at home. But being away in a residential program gives the boxers a chance to establish themselves independently and to adjust to unfamiliar circumstances. That is of great importance in a sport where you meet an unknown opponent far away from home and you can’t escape or hide because of the bright lights and the ring ropes.

American boxers have won only three gold medals in the last four Olympics. Maybe that’s a set of circumstances we’ll all have to adjust to by supporting Campbell, the first ever full-time Olympic Director of Coaching. We’re a long way from the 1972 Olympics. Or are we? …

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