USA Boxing

US boxer Russell collapses, out of Olympics

Aug. 08, 2008, 2:40 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Bantamweight Gary Russell Jr. will miss the Olympics after collapsing while trying to make weight, leaving the American boxing team without one of its top medal hopes.

The two-time national champion was found unconscious and severely dehydrated early Friday morning, U.S. coach Dan Campbell said. Russell's roommate, light flyweight Luis Yanez, alerted the American coaches shortly after Russell returned from a run in a final effort to reach his 119-pound weight limit.

Medical personnel at the athletes' village rehydrated Russell. The 20-year-old boxer wasn't hospitalized and rested Friday, unable to participate with his teammates in the pre-Olympic weigh-in.

"We became alarmed a couple of days ago when we saw he wasn't sweating like he should," Campbell said after Friday's draw. "When these kids try to make weight, sometimes they cut corners. What we believe is he did not increase his fluid intake after we told him to."

Russell's weight problems weren't terribly surprising, considering he hadn't competed at 119 pounds since the world championships in Chicago last fall. He has weighed 125 pounds or more in every test event and dual meet since, but Campbell and Russell both thought the fighter would be able to make weight in Beijing.

Russell is the second high-profile boxer to drop out of the Beijing Games with weight-limit issues. British lightweight Frankie Gavin didn't even attempt to make weight, ruling himself out of the Olympics on Thursday after several months of struggles.

The Americans have been working out in a university gymnasium in Beijing where the excessive air conditioning has upset Campbell, who likes hotter gyms to facilitate sweating.

The U.S. team has just eight remaining boxers, its smallest contingent since the 1948 London Olympics. World champions Demetrius Andrade and Rau'shee Warren both made weight Friday.

"We thought he was a very good shot at a medal," Campbell said. "We try to tell the team when we have these types of adversities, we still have eight guys in there, and we're going to try to concentrate on what we've got."

Middleweight Shawn Estrada will lead the U.S. team into competition Saturday. But it won't be the same without Russell, perhaps its most charismatic and exciting fighter. Since he was a 2-year-old prodigy putting on shadowboxing shows at fight clubs in Washington D.C., Russell has dreamed of wearing an Olympic medal even more than a pro career.

"I've just always thought winning a gold medal would mean more than being a world champion, or winning all that money, or anything," Russell told The Associated Press last month. "There's just something about it."

Russell's father, Gary Russell Sr., is among several coaches and parents who have disagreed with Campbell's training methods and his decision to keep the U.S. team in a residency program in Colorado Springs, Colo., for nearly a year.

Russell Sr. has criticized Campbell's conditioning programs, claiming the U.S. team emphasizes the wrong aspects of fight training. Russell Sr., who is in Beijing, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday, and Russell Jr. didn't respond to a text message.

"He wants to go home," Campbell said.

Campbell and USA Boxing chief executive Jim Millman planned to meet later Friday to determine whether Russell would leave Beijing.

The Russells raised more than $10,000 to cover the costs of sending the fighter's family to Beijing. Gary Russell Jr. is one of five brothers all named Gary Russell, including promising boxers Allan Russell, who uses his middle name, and Gary Russell III, who's currently competing in the under-19 national championships in Kansas City.

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