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Luis Yanez and Christopher Downs Team Captains for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team

The United States Olympic Boxing team arrived at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Monday to begin preparations for the upcoming World Championships and 2008 Olympic Games. The 11-member team are the first participants in boxing’s first resident program at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center in 20 years. The team selected light flyweight Luis Yanez (Duncanville, Texas) and Christopher Downs (Fort Carson, Colo.) in their first official team meeting on Monday night.

Yanez has taken the amateur boxing world by storm since entering the open division in 2006. Yanez, a waiter at a Dallas area restaurant, has taken home two straight U.S. Championships titles and Golden Gloves championships and recently won a gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games. He has owned his weight division for the past several years and hasn’t lost a bout in the United States in over five years. His extensive knowledge of amateur boxing both nationally and internationally will provide outstanding knowledge for his fellow team members.

Downs will be the oldest known U.S. boxer when he takes the ring in Beijing. After being volunteered to compete in an Army smoker only four years ago, Downs made a quick ascent to the top of the boxing world. The 32-year-old served a tour in Iraq prior to becoming a member of the Army’s World Class athlete program. Over the past two years, he was has won two U.S. Championships titles as well as a bronze medal at the recent Pan American Games. As a military athlete and the oldest member of the U.S. team, Downs has served as a team captain several times, including the recent Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The 2008 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team was set at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing in Houston, Texas, August 20-26. The 11-member squad, who will be living at the Olympic Training Center full time until the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, is full of unique storylines as well as medal potential.

Flyweight Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) will make history by becoming the first U.S. boxer to compete in two Olympic Games since Davey Lee Armstrong in 1972 and 1976. The youngest male U.S. Olympian in any sport in Athens, Warren made the rare decision to return to amateur boxing after competing in the Olympics. He has controlled the flyweight division in the United States as well as winning bronze at the 2005 World Championships. He has his eyes squarely set on gold in Beijing, and dreams of putting his hardware around his mother, Paulette’s neck.

Bantamweight Gary Russell, Jr. (Capitol Heights, Md.) took the hard road to the U.S. Olympic team. After winning two national titles and World Championships bronze, Russell dropped a one-point decision in his first bout at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Yet Russell quickly bounced back, winning six straight bouts in Houston to earn the bantamweight berth. He joins Olympic bronze medalists Evander Holyfield and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in boxing his way out of the challengers bracket to claim an Olympic berth.

Featherweight Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) burst onto the national scene in 2007, peaking at exactly the right time. He claimed his first senior national title at the U.S. Championships in Colorado Springs in June and followed it up with four victories in Houston to take the featherweight Olympic berth. Williams was pushed to a second day of boxing by hometown boxer Hylon Williams, Jr., but came through when it counted, winning the definitive bout to become the second straight Cleveland boxer to win the featherweight spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Lightweight Sadam Ali (Brooklyn, N.Y.) continues the great heritage of Brooklyn boxers with his berth on the United States Olympic team. Ali made the move up to the lightweight division in 2006 and it was clearly the correct decision with his outstanding week of boxing in Houston. He will be the first Ali to represent the United States in boxing at the Olympic Games, as Muhammad Ali was known as Cassius Clay when he won gold in Rome.

Light welterweight Javier Molina (Commerce, Calif.) is the definition of persistence. After losing at his local qualifier and the Midwestern Trials, Molina refused to give him. He finally earned a coveted U.S. Championships berth at the Eastern Trials, but his difficult road didn’t end there. Molina, a 17-year-old honor student, drew two-time national champion Karl Dargan for a spot in the Olympic Team Trials. He took home the upset win of the tournament to advance on to the Olympic Trials, where he recorded four straight victories to earn the light welterweight berth on the Olympic Team.

Welterweight Demetrius Andrade (Providence, R.I.) will be returning to familiar surroundings at the Olympic Training Center. The two-time national champion and Pan American Games silver medalist has spent much of the past three years here in Colorado Springs. A father of one-year-old daughter, Autumn, hopes to make his family proud when he takes his patented style to the Olympic level in Beijing.

Middleweight Shawn Estrada (Downey, Calif.) won bronze at both the 2005 and 2006 U.S. Championships, but he picked the right time to step to the top of the medal podium. Estrada comes from the mean streets of E. Los Angeles, and used that mental toughness to emerge from a talent-rich middleweight division at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He is currently studying fire technology, and plans to become a firefighter following the 2008 Olympic Games.

Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) took up the sport of boxing less than two years ago in an attempt to create a better life for his two-year-old daughter who suffers from spina bafida. Wilder has enjoyed an outstanding 2007, winning the Golden Gloves and U.S. Championships prior to claiming an Olympic berth in only his 21st berth in Houston. The 21-year-old father worked at Red Lobster and as a delivery driver in order to support his daughter, Naieya.

Super heavyweight Michael Hunter (Las Vegas, Nev.) is making a return to the Olympic Training Center after taking part in the Junior World Championships camp just over a year ago. When Hunter made his first trip to the Colorado Springs OTC, he could not complete a two-mile run; now just 12 months later, he is a U.S. Olympian. Hunter is the son of a former professional heavyweight, who passed away in February of 2006. Hunter dedicates all of his bouts to his father’s memory.

The U.S. Olympic Team will begin the process of international qualifying at the 2007 AIBA World Championships, October 23-November 3, in Chicago, Ill. The light flyweight through light heavyweight competitors must place in the top eight to qualify while the heavyweight and super heavyweight boxers must finish in the top four. The United States will be hosting the World Championships for the first time since the 1999 World Championships in Houston, Texas.

USA Boxing, as the national governing body for Olympic-style boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
 
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