Posts tagged "boxing"

A second chance at Olympic gold: the Errol Spence Jr. story

By Josh Blessing  and Alex Kartman |  BSU at the Games

His journey began inside a run-down boxing gym in southern Dallas.

Now the No. 1 U.S. welterweight boxer, Errol Spence Jr. finds himself fighting for a medal in the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympic Games Tuesday night.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience representing your country,” Spence Jr. said. “Making your country at the top, being No. 1 again…that’s a big honor.”

Spence Jr., who opened the Games with a 16-10 victory, advanced to Tuesday’s quarterfinals after his 13-11 loss versus India’s Krishan Vikas in the round of 16 was overturned. The decision came nearly four hours after the match.

“I am obviously thrilled that the competition jury overturned my decision and I can continue chasing the gold medal I came here to win,” Spence Jr. said. “I am going to make the most of this second chance that I’ve been given. I can’t wait to get back in that ring on Tuesday.”

The International Amateur Boxing Association unanimously overturned the decision upon reviewing video of the fight after USA Boxing filed a protest. The AIBA ruled the referee should have awarded Spence Jr. four more points, making the score 15-13.

The decision allows Spence Jr. to continue chasing his gold medal dream just like his idol growing up: former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who won gold at the 1988 Soul Olympics.

“Muhammad Ali was an influence for me and I’m glad, happy and overjoyed that somebody else has gained influence from my boxing,” Lewis said. “I wish him the best and I hope he does well.”

The quarterfinal match versus Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy is set to start at 5 P.M. EST.

Check out our full photo gallery on Errol Spence, Jr.

Josh Blessing is a junior telecommunications major and Alex Kartman is a graduate student studying digital storytelling at Ball State University. They both cover sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Josh, Alex and the BSU team at @JoshJBlessing@ajkartman@bsuatthegames and

Daily Video: The Errol Spence Jr. Story Promo

Here’s a sneak peek of Monday’s BSU at the Games exclusive with USA Boxing’s Errol Spence, Jr.

From the age of 15 boxing in Dallas at the tiny Vivero Boxing Gym, to Maple Avenue Boxing Gym in downtown Dallas to seven national championships – Spence has his sights set on Olympic gold in London.

The Errol Spence Jr. Story promo

Photo Gallery: Errol Spence, Jr.

In one of the biggest scoring controversies of the Games so far, Team USA boxer Errol Spence, Jr. was awarded a victory Friday night in his fight against Indian boxer Krishan Vikas after the jury reversed the original ruling that Vikas had won. Of 9 boxers competing for Team USA, Spence is the only one remaining in the running for a medal. He will compete again on Tuesday.

Photos by Valerie Carnevale.

Diaz loses to familiar foe

By Conor Hockett  |  BSU at the Games

Joseph Diaz Jr. couldn’t get inside Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez Estrada’s reach to cause significant damage in the round of 16 match at bantamweight (56 kg) Wednesday.

Alvarez, the No. 1 seeded boxer from Cuba, took all three rounds and won 21-15 to reach the quarterfinals.

“Unfortunately I didn’t get the W, but I gave everyone the show they wanted to see,” Diaz said. “I’m glad I gave everyone a really good show. Everyone was chering and that’s what I came here to do.”

The first round was close as Diaz staggered Alvarez momentarily with a  1-2 combination, but the Cuban’s aggressive, punch-heavy style gave him a 7-6 advantage.

Diaz tried to up the tempo in rounds two and three, but Alvarez used a stiff jab to keep him out of range. Alvarez took the final two rounds 7-4 and 7-5 in a fight that was much closer than the score suggests.

“I thought the scoring should have been closer, but the judges didn’t see that unfortunately,” Diaz said. “Lazaro (is) a really great fighter. I’m not going to give him a downgrade or anything; he’s a really great fighter. He’s a good boxer, a great puncher, and it just wasn’t my day for the judges”

At the 2011 World Championships, Alvarez beat Diaz 19-10 in the quarterfinals on his way to the world title.

U.S. boxing has four men left in medal contention: Rau’Shee Warren at 52 kg, Jose Ramirez at 60 kg, Errol Spence Jr. at 69 kg and Terrell Gausha at 75 kg.

Conor Hockett is a junior journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Conor and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and

An Olympian’s fight for a better life

By Emily Thompson  |  BSU at the Games

JoJo Diaz grew up as part of a poor family in a rough part of El Monte, Calif. Kids in his neighborhood wanted him to join one of the local gangs, but Diaz liked school. He got good grades. For that reason, and because he was so small, he was bullied a lot.

One time he fought back.

The fight landed him in a special class for troubled students, and he swore to never fight on the street again. But the bullying didn’t stop.

He turned to his father for advice, and his dad took him to the local boxing gym to learn how to defend himself the right way. The very first day, Diaz ran into one of the bullies from school at the gym. The other boy had two years experience in the ring.

“You think you’re tough?” the bully said. “Let’s spar.”

Diaz agreed to spar in a week. During that time he practiced with his father. A week later, he put on his boxing gloves and walked into the ring for his first match. He gave the bully a bloody nose and made him cry. He found his passion in life.

“Ever since then, I just got hooked on boxing,” he said. “And I said, ‘Dad, we could do this for a living.’”

Joseph Diaz Jr. completes an intense heavy bag workout during a Team USA Boxing training session at SCORE training center in Leyton, an area of east London. Photo by Valerie Carnevale.

Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. is now the youngest boxer on Team USA for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. USA Boxing gives him a monthly stipend, which supports Diaz, one of his sisters and his two unemployed parents.

“If it wasn’t for boxing, I don’t know where I’d be,” he said. “I don’t know if I’d be in a gang or what. But boxing really helps me out a lot, with everything: helping out my parents financially, helping me stay of trouble, everything overall.”

But the stipend was not enough for his parents to come to London and watch him in the Olympic Games. So he and his family washed cars, sold t-shirts and autographs, collected donations and held beer pong tournaments.

After what seemed like endless fundraising, they raised enough money to bring seven people to watch him: his mother and father, his two sisters and brother-in-laws and his boxing director. They met Diaz in London last week.

Another person in his corner is fellow Olympic boxer Marcus Browne. The two spend a lot time together outside of the ring.

“JoJo’s my boy,” Browne said. “He’s a great kid. If I would have a son, I want my son to be like him because he’s well mannered. He’s just a good-spirited person.”

Since arriving in London, Diaz said he’s ready to compete.

“I’m already here,” he said. “I’m already really well trained. I’m already focused. I’m in the best shape of my life. So I know that it’s going to be really hard to beat me.”

He and the rest of Team USA Boxing are preparing for the Games at the SCORE Training Center in London. At a typical practice, the team trains with four coaches.

Although the center doesn’t have air conditioning, Diaz wore a gray, long-sleeved Nike shirt and black athletic shorts Thursday. After stretching and conditioning, he put on his gloves and started hitting the punching bag. His punches got harder and faster as he progressed, with a “hut” sound each time he hit the bag. Eventually his nice, clean clothes became sweaty. Although several other athletes and coaches were buzzing around him, he looked as focused as if he were alone.

Al Mitchell, Team USA head boxing coach, said he’s confident in Diaz’s skills.

“He’s a very smart young man, and he wants to learn,” Mitchell said. “He’s just getting better and better each day. When he came here, he could box. And he’s working on strategy now.”

Although USA Boxing hasn’t done well in recent Olympic Games, Diaz said he believes that will change this year. In fact, he has his heart set on gold.

“If I bring back that gold medal, I’m going to change my whole family’s life,” he said. “I’m going to buy them a house. I’m going to buy them a car and just pay all their bills for them and everything. So that’s actually making me more focused and more determined.”

Emily Thompson is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at@ekthompson2410@bsuatthegames and

Photo of the day: Boxer Rau’Shee Warren

Team USA Boxer Rau’Shee Warren fights today in the Men’s Fly (52kg) event as one of two American boxers left in the competition. See our full gallery of Warren here.

Photo by Valerie Carnevale.

Photo Gallery: Rau’Shee Warren

Is the third time a charm for Cincinnati native Rau’Shee Warren? A competitor in both the Athens and Beijing Olympics, Warren is competing for Team USA for a third time in boxing. He is one of two American boxers left in the competition. Check out our video piece on Rau’Shee here.

Photos by Valerie Carnevale.

U.K. sports: dreary or daring?

I grew up in a family centered around athletics. My dad is a coach, my mom was an athletic trainer, and my brothers and I combined probably played every popular sport in the U.S. As I prepare for my trip to England this summer, centered around the biggest sporting event in the world, I’m becoming intrigued about the sports culture in the U.K. On one hand, ravenous European sports fans can be as intense as a Raiders fan during a playoff game. On the other hand, sports from across the pond do have a reputation to be rather … dreary. Is the difference between U.S. and U.K. sports so different?

Rugby is the grandfather of football, American football that is. Basically, it’s football on steroids. There are fifteen players, and literally everybody on the field, or pitch, is in danger of taking a blow. Backs, essentially the scorers of rugby, can kick, throw and run the ball to score just like a football quarterback would. However, you are not allowed to throw the ball forward. Forwards are the linemen and they do all the tackling. There are also these weird team huddle groups called scrams, and they’re used like a face-off in hockey.

Honestly, I’m really intrigued by rugby. It’s is all about brute force and quick feet. It’s minimal protection and massive muscle. The average weight of a professional rugby player is 238 pounds. Bloody hell. What more could a female sports fan ask for?

No matter how much I read up on cricket, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand the game. It’s sort of like baseball, in that there is a bat, a ball and to score you need to make runs. There are some fun twists that include wickets and bails. There are three wickets, or posts, that stand behind the batter. On top of the wickets are two pieces of wood called bails. If a batter knocks off the bails, then they’re out. There are only two “bases” that the batters run between. The positions are essentially the same: pitcher, batter, fielders.

It’s baseball mixed with Jenga. Did I also mention that cricket uniforms make the players look like they’re going out for tea afterwards?

Interestingly enough, Polo originated in India. It is legitimately the fastest sport in the world. The U.S. doesn’t really have a sport to compare to polo. We do have a men’s cologne named after it though.

Players on horses race full -peed towards a tiny ball, swinging giant mallets. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe not so ironically, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 64 percent of polo injuries were considered major, the most common of which were fractures and facial lacerations. So if you like demolition derby mixed with croquet and horse racing, polo is the sport for you.

Tennis, soccer (football), boxing, golf
Tennis, soccer, boxing and golf are other sports that are really popular in the United Kingdom. Soccer is an especially beloved pastime. Don’t call it soccer though, unless you want everyone to know that you are an uncultured American.
Some other sports words that you should know are: pitch (field), boots (cleats), kit (uniform), footie (game/match), etc., etc.

Even though cricket and polo are the only sports on this list that aren’t an official sport of the summer Olympic Games, I’m still excited to see all of these games and athletes in action.

Jessica Pettengill  |  Features Reporter