Your Black Sports: Top Fighter Collapses, Will Miss Olympics

August 8, 2008

Gary Russell Jr., one of the United States’ best hopes for a boxing gold medal, collapsed while trying to make weight in Beijing on Friday. Russell was found by teammate Luis Yanez after Russell was trying to shed two pounds to make his 119 lb. weight limit. Doctors decided that Russell was not well enough to weigh in as he rehydrated, so he will not compete in the Olympics. All eyes will quickly turn to controversial USA Boxing coach Dan Campbell, as nothing says bad coaching quite like poor weight management.

Campbell required the entire U.S. team, chosen last August, to move to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and follow his training regime. In boxing, much like wrestling, judo and other combat sports, the athletes will continue to train with their coaches and visit the OTC for camps. Some athletes do train there full-time, but it is rarely required for an athlete for pick up and move away for a year, leaving their coaches and training partners. Some of the boxers aired their unhappiness with the program publicly, with Saddam Ali talking about it on a radio show, and Yanez saying that the fighters don’t like Campbell.

Campbell, and USA Boxing CEO Jim Millman, instituted the year-long program to fight against inconsistency in coaching. One of the upsides of the program, according to Campbell, is that the fighters’ injuries were quickly diagnosed and treated, which might not have been so at the boxers’ individual gyms. “We’re healthy now,” Campbell said.


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