Light welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell earned a place on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team Thursday by defeating Jordan’s Obada Al-Kasbeh at the 2016 World Olympic Qualification Event in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Needing at least a top-five finish to earn his trip to Brazil, the unranked Russell opened the tournament with a 3-0 decision over Ukraine’s Viktor Petrov, who was No. 24 in the most recent world rankings. That was followed by a first-round TKO of Ethiopia’s Girmachew Tadesse and a 3-0 win over Australia’s David Biddle, No. 32 in the world. Thursday’s 3-0 decision against Al-Kasbeh locked down Russell’s place on the Olympic team with semifinal competition scheduled for Friday.
Russell, who turned 20 just nine days ago, hails from a boxing family. His father, Gary Russell Sr., has five sons, all of whom are named Gary Russell, and four of the sons are boxers. Older brother Gary Russell Jr. qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games, but was unable to compete after collapsing on the day of Opening Ceremony.
The younger Russell, who was valedictorian of his high school class, walked the same path his older brother did through the Olympic Trials. Both lost on the first day of the double-elimination competition, then won six consecutive bouts to win the trials and the opportunity to represent the United States at an Olympic Games.
With his 2014 Golden Gloves title, Russell became part of history – he and his three boxing brothers are the first group of four brothers to win national Golden Gloves titles.
The last time the United States earned an Olympic medal in the light welterweight division was the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, when Ricardo Williams brought home silver.