USA Boxing Enjoys International Medal Haul in 2013

Dec. 28, 2013, 12:59 p.m. (ET)

2013 marked a tremendous year for United States boxers in events throughout the world with USA Boxing claiming 75 medals in international competition. With a renewed focus on providing valuable international experience for boxers across various age groups, USA Boxing competed in 12 different events on four continents over the past year.

The year got off to a great start at the 2013 Independence Cup with a six medal performance from the eight-athlete squad in the opening international tournament. Flyweight Shawn Simpson (Chicago, Ill.) and light welterweight Erickson Lubin (Kissimmee, Fla.) each kicked off the year with gold medal victories in the multi-nation competition. Light flyweight Leroy Davila (New Brunswick, N.J.), lightweight Kenneth Sims, Jr. (Chicago, Ill.) and welterweight Rashidi Ellis (Lynn, Mass.) advanced to final round action as well, taking silver medals in international competition. 2012 Olympian Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) earned the lone bronze medal for the United States, falling by one point in lightweight semifinal action.

Less than a year after the debut of the women’s boxing in the Olympic Games, the junior girls held their first-ever training camp at the Olympic Training Center. Their preparatory camp paid off in competition with the six young women claiming five gold medals as well an Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament win from Caitlin Orosco (Anaheim, Calif.). Light flyweight Nysja Barrientes (Las Vegas, Nev.), bantamweight Jessica Galvez (Sparks, Nev.), featherweight Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) and lightweight Iesha Kenney (Alexandria, Va.) joined Orosco atop the medal stand with light bantamweight Ashley Perez (Sparks, Nev.) taking silver.

Refusing to be outdone by their female counterparts, the junior boys put on a show in international action in their 2013 debut as well.  Team USA won nine medals in the Victory Day Tournament in Olympic-style boxing powerhouse, Ukraine, including three gold. Light flyweight Daniel Gonzalez (Moreno Valley, Calif.), light bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), and super heavyweight Pano Tiatia (St. George, Utah) each won gold in tournament action. Pinweight Jordan White (Waldorf, Md.) and lightweight Keoni Adric (Haleiwa, Hawaii) claimed silver while flyweight Evan Sanchez (Fresno, Calif.), bantamweight Devin Haney (Las Vegas, Nev.), welterweight Javier Estrada (Palmdale, Calif.) and light middleweight Alexis Rocha (Santa Ana, Calif.) all returned home with bronze medals.

From May to September, it was the elite division athletes racking up the hardware for Team USA. The United States national anthem was a familiar tune in the event venue at the Women’s Continental Championships. Team USA won eight gold medals in the major international event as well as a silver from middleweight Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.). The USA Boxing national champions taking gold at the event were: flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas), bantamweight Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.), featherweight Jennifer Hamman (Seattle, Wash.), lightweight Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.), light welterweight Bertha Aracil (Yonkers, N.Y.), welterweight Danyelle Wolf (San Diego, Calif.), light heavyweight Tiffanie Hearn (Oxnard, Calif.) and heavyweight Denise Rico (Los Angeles, Calif.).

The elite men and women continued to add to the medal count at the Cheo Aponte and Olympic Cup tournaments in Puerto Rico over the summer as the men readied for their own Continental Championships.

Meanwhile, the youth men became the second age group to travel to Ukraine for their own international competition – the Klitchko Brothers Tournament. Five U.S. boxers won spots on
the medal stand and Team USA finished second overall in team standings in Ukraine. Flyweight Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) and welterweight Kareem Martin (Clinton, Md.) won gold in tournament action with middleweight Alex Rincon (Carrollton,
Texas) taking silver. Flyweight Gilbert Renteria (Houston, Texas) and lightweight Lamont Roach (Upper Marlboro, Md.) rounded out the U.S. medal tally with bronze. 

Following a three medal showing for the elite men at their Continental Championships, the spotlight once again returned to the junior boys. The United States’ top junior male boxers faced off with the best in the world at the 2013 Junior Men’s World’s Championships in Kiev, Ukraine and two young boxers came home with hardware around their neck.

Sixteen-year-old light bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) won only the third-ever gold medal in junior world championships action for the United States with his performance in Ukraine. Light flyweight Daniel Gonzalez (Moreno Valley, Calif.) also enjoyed tremendous success in the event, taking a silver medal in his first world championships.

The youth revolution continued for the United States in the first-ever Junior and Youth Women’s World Championships in Bulgaria. Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) headlined the inaugural event, which featured the world’s best junior and youth athletes. Shields dominated the action en route to her first World Championships title in Bulgaria, but she wasn’t the only U.S. boxer to take gold. Pinweight Caitlin Orosco (Anaheim, Calif.) and featherweight JaJaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) each claimed junior titles to add two more international medals to the U.S. tally. Junior division lightweight Iesha Kenney (Alexandria, Va.), youth light flyweight Marisol Lopez (Stratford, Calif.), and youth welterweight Samantha Kinchen (Lexington, Ky.) all won bronze medals for the United States in world championships action.

The final U.S. medals of the 2013 came at the SportAccord World Combat Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. 2012 Olympian Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) avenged her London loss in semifinal action on her way to the final gold medal of the year for Team USA. Underwood’s Olympic teammate Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) and male lightweight Cresencio Ramos (San Antonio) took silver in the multi-sport event with five additional U.S. boxers each winning bronze.

The United States success didn’t end with the 75 international medals, as two American boxers received unprecedented awards from AIBA for their performances in 2013 as well. Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) was named the Junior Male Boxer of the Year following his gold medal in Junior World Championships action and Olympic champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) received the first-ever Youth Female of the Year award for her showing at the inaugural Junior and Youth Women’s World Championships.

Congratulations to all of the United States athletes on their outstanding performances in 2013. USA Boxing looks forward to another strong year on the international scene in 2013 under the guidance of AIBA Coach of the Decade Pedro Roque.