(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – Twelve American boxers took their first step toward the 2016 Olympic Games with gold medal victories at the Olympic Trials and they will all look to leap over the final hurdle at the Americas Olympic Qualifier, March 11-19 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
More than 240 athletes from 34 countries are slated to compete in the critical event in the Argentine capitol with 25 men’s and five women’s Olympic berths on the line. Since 2000, boxers from across the globe have had to qualify their spots internationally in addition to winning their respective national events. The Americas Olympic Qualifier, which will be a continental tournament, marks the first time an Olympic qualifying event will include both men’s and women’s competition.
Due to host country berths and men’s international qualifying events prior the the Olympic Trials as well as the number of available quota spots varying by weight division, the place in which each American boxer will need to finish in Buenos Aires differs slightly by weight class.
Traditionally, the United States qualifies the majority of their Olympic berths in the continental qualifier and the 2016 squad has high hopes to continue that tradition in Argentina.
Welterweight Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pa.), middleweight Charles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas), and super heavyweight Marlo Moore (Hayward, Calif.) will all need to place in the top three in Argentina to clinch their Olympic berths. There will be a consolation bout between to determine the third place position on the same day as the championship round matches.
In the men’s division, light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas), flyweight Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.), bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), light welterweight Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.), light heavyweight Jonathan Esquivel (Anaheim, Calif.) will all need to advance to the finals to qualify their Rio spots.
Women’s flyweight Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) and reigning women’s middleweight Olympic champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) will also need at least a silver medal to punch their tickets for Brazil. Female lightweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) will need to win the Americas Olympic Qualifier to advance to her first Olympic Games.
The U.S. team has been in training camp at the Olympic Training Center since February 16 in preparation for the Americas Olympic Qualifier. The team will travel to Argentina today and finish training camp in Buenos Aires in order to acclimate to the environment and time zone in the competition location. The general weigh-in will take place on March 11 prior to the official event draw and the start of preliminary action that evening. Competition will run through March 19 when the championship matches and consolation bouts take place at the Predio Ferial la Rural de Palermo in Buenos Aires.
USA Boxing Women’s National Team Head Coach Billy Walsh (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and coaches Joe Guzman (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kay Koroma (Burke, Va.), Benny Roman (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Augie Sanchez (Las Vegas, Nev.) have been preparing the athletes in training camp and will travel with the U.S. squad to the event in Buenos Aires.
The Americas Olympic Qualifier is the first of three qualifying opportunities for the men and two for the female athletes. The top four athletes in the Women’s World Championships in May will also advance to the 2016 Olympic Games. On the men’s side, there will be a second opportunity for athletes who previously competed in World Series of Boxing and APB (AIBA Pro Boxing) bouts over the last two years in May. The final event will be a last chance world qualifier in late June.
Lightweight Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.) qualified for the 2016 Olympics based upon his finish in the 2015 World Series of Boxing season and does not need to compete in any qualifying events.
The full list of registered athletes from north, central and south America competing in the Americas Olympic qualifier has not yet been released and will be disseminated upon completion.
Americas Olympic Qualifier Team
Male light flyweight: Nico Hernandez, Wichita, Kansas (must finish in top two)
Female flyweight: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas (must finish in top two)
Male flyweight: Antonio Vargas, Kissimmee, Fla. (must finish in top two)
Male bantamweight: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J. (must finish in top two)
Female lightweight: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif. (must win gold)
Male light welterweight: Gary Russell, Capitol Heights, Md. (must finish in top two)
Male welterweight: Paul Kroll, Philadelphia, Pa. (must finish in top three)
Female middleweight: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich. (must finish in top two)
Male middleweight: Charles Conwell, Cleveland Heights, Ohio (must finish in top three)
Male light heavyweight: Jonathan Esquivel, Anaheim, Calif. (must finish in top two)
Male heavyweight: Cam F. Awesome, Lenexa, Kansas (must finish in top three)|Male super heavyweight: Marlo Moore, Hayward, Calif. (must finish in top three)
Billy Walsh, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Kay Koroma, Burke, Va.
Benny Roman, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Joe Guzman, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Augie Sanchez, Las Vegas, Nev.