Meet The First Six U.S. Boxers To Qualify For The Tokyo Games
By Steve Drumwright |
May 12, 2021, 8:12 p.m. (ET)
Slowly but surely, the pieces are coming together for Americans hoping to compete in this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The latest round of good news came from the Boxing Task Force, which announced 49 Olympic quota spots — including six that went to Americans. Originally, the spots were to be awarded at an Americas Olympic Qualifier in Argentina.
Here is a little more about the six athletes who will represent Team USA in Tokyo:
Rashida Ellis (Women’s 60 kg., Lightweight)
The 25-year-old from Lynn, Massachusetts, won a bronze medal at the 2019 world championships and will be making her Olympic debut.
Ellis has been a mainstay at the top of USA Boxing’s roster and is currently second in the BTF Americas rankings and 12th overall among lightweights. She also took home a bronze medal from the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, after winning her first international gold at the Pan Am Qualifier.
Following that stellar first year of international competition, Ellis was named USA Boxing’s 2019 Elite Female Boxer of the Year. This year, Ellis’ season got off to a terrific start when she won a gold medal in March at the Boxam Tournament in Spain.
Virginia Fuchs (Women’s 51 kg., Flyweight)
Selected for her first Olympics at age 33, Fuchs is the No. 2 flyweight in the Americas rankings and 16th in the world.
“I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. I am so excited I can finally call myself an Olympian,” she told USA Boxing. “With all this world has been through and having to postpone the Olympics a whole year, I am proud to say I am one of the participants in what will be known as the most recognized Olympics in history.”
The Houston native won a silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games, which followed a bronze at the 2018 world championships. She will be aiming to bring home the second medal for the U.S. in the flyweight division since it became an Olympic women’s event at the 2012 London Games.
Fuchs won a silver medal at March’s Boxam Tournament, which followed a bronze in February’s Strandja Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Naomi Graham (Women’s 75 kg., Middleweight)
The Fayetteville, North Carolina, resident ranks No. 1 among Americas middleweights and eighth in the world.
Graham is one of Team USA’s best hopes for a boxing medal in Tokyo, having won the Boxam Tournament and Strandja Tournament this year. She has steadily climbed up the international ladder, taking fifth at the 2016 world championships before moving up to third in 2018, and in 2019 she won gold at the Pan American Games.
Already named team captain in August, Graham will be the first active female member of the military to compete for USA Boxing in the Olympics. Graham is a staff sergeant in the Army. The U.S. has won the last two Olympic gold medals in the middleweight division.
Delante Johnson (Men’s 69 kg., Welterweight)
A Clevelander through and through, the 22-year-old Johnson makes it four Olympics in a row for a boxer from Ohio’s second largest city. He follows Raynell Williams in 2008, Terrell Gausha in 2012 and Charles Conwell in 2016.
Johnson is the third-ranked Americas welterweight and 19th in the world. After bursting onto the scene in 2016 by winning a gold medal at the youth world championships, he finished third at the 2019 Pan American Games.
He has appeared in three world championships, finishing in the top 16 in 2019. Johnson also finished third at the 2018 and 2019 Strandja Tournaments.
Oshae Jones (Women’s 69 kg., Welterweight)
Another Ohioan, the 23-year-old from Toledo will represent USA Boxing in one of two new weight divisions on the women’s side.
Jones is already in the record book as the first Pan American Games welterweight gold medalist, winning a unanimous decision in 2019. After competing in the 2018 world championships, Jones earned a top-five finish in 2019 and is currently the No. 1 Americas welterweight and seventh in the world.
Boxing is a family affair for Jones, who is coached by her dad, Otha, and one of her two brothers, Roshown. Both of her brothers have been professional boxers.
Richard Torrez Jr. (Men’s 91-plus kg., Super Heavyweight)
Set to turn 22 on June 1, the Tulare, California, resident ranks No. 1 among Americas super heavyweights and 11th in the world. He will be the first U.S. boxer to compete in the men’s super heavyweight division at the Olympic since the 2012 London Games.
Torrez finished third at the 2019 Pan American Games and among the top five at the 2019 world championships. That followed a notable youth career in which he finished fifth at the 2015 junior world championships and then third in 2016.
“Everyone is happy they’re going to the Olympics, it’s everyone’s dream, but I need to be there,” Torrez told USA Boxing. “The fire that was instilled in me before I could even walk, that drives me to be the best, the fire that has been in my family for generations, has overflowed. It has set ablaze all my second options, and it has made ashes of any other possibility besides that of success.”
Torrez won the 2020 Boxam Tournament and the 2019 Strandja Tournament. Boxing is also a family tradition for Torrez, whose dad once ranked in the top five as an amateur and whose grandfather boxed in the Air Force.
Steve Drumwright is a journalist based in Murrieta, California. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.