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Home Boxing AMATEUR BACKGROUND NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE?
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AMATEUR BACKGROUND NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE?

boxing_images-2021We as fight fans have always heard that the more amateur fights a fighter had prior to turning pro, the more well equipped he/she would be to enter the pro game.  Now, I am not going to attempt to turn that entire theory on it's head, yet I feel like many previously standard life statements, i.e.: get a college degree and you'll be guaranteed better jobs, American standard of living will never decrease, morality and religion go together, etc, it has lost it's luster.  These statements were at one point accepted fact.  Now they are all not only open for debate, but bordering on being thrown out altogether.

While wathcing ESPN2's Friday Night Fights recent telecast, I couldn't help but notice that lightweights Ji-Hoon Kim and Alisher Rahimov had very different styles.  However, I had to be told which one had the long amateur background.  While Rahimov's late start as a pro, plus his nationaility (Uzbek), is a bit of a hint as to his amateur pedirgree of over 250 amatuer fights, he was not the obviously better schooled of the two.  Ji-Hoon Kim had no amateur fights, yet was able to outwork his more experienced opponent, and even show better lateral movement and angles than Rahimov.

Kim has scored two straight decision wins after being an all action knockout fighter, so he is learning well on the job, but i think more of it is due to the lack of amatuer fundamentals being learned these days, particularly in western countries.  On the undercard, Seattle-area heavyweight Vince Thompson won a dull decision over Joell Godfrey.  Thompson flicked his right jab, barley used his left, and neglected the body.  During the telecast we were told he had 43 amateur fights.  That is 40 more than it looked like he had. Even experienced heavyweight Chris Arreola does not fight with the polish than it would seem a former national amateur champion should have.

I feel that as college is the next money bubble to burst in America, the amateur game is perhaps on it's way out.  Not to say fundamentals are not learned at that level, nor am I saying it is a waste of time.  Surely the fast progression on most Cuban fighters once they turn pro is encouraging, yet we are only seeing the best of that nation defect in the first place, so it may be false hope.  To save the amateur game, at least in this country, the Olympics have tro be something special.  I don't mean Andre Ward, David Reid, or even Oscar de la Hoya special, where we make one fighter the standout.

We need a team like the one the year of my birth, 1976.  If London makes not only winners, but stars out of U.S. fighters, we should be able to resurrect the program, and perhaps, make it more relevant to the global boxing picture.  In 2012, we are fighting in a nation of allies, have experienced amateurs on the team, and have even added a couple women to give a better chance at crossover stardom.  There are no excuses this year.  We need to make it happen.

Chris Strait
www.convictedartist.com

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