Kazakhstan become the team to beat at welterweight (69kg)

August 1st, 2016 / IBA

The Olympic welterweight title was traditionally one of the more democratic weight categories, the first ten titles shared between nine nations before Cuba and East Germany traded podium-topping duties between 1968 and 1980. Then, in Atlanta in 1996, one of Russia’s many boxing greats, Oleg Saitov, battled his way to gold and kickstarted a winning streak that incorporated the World title a year later in Budapest and a second gold in Sydney in 2000.

Only the narrowest of semi-final defeats to Kazakhstan’s Bakhtiyar Artayev at Athens 2004 prevented Saitov joining the sacred trio of triple Olympic boxing gold medallists, with the Kazakh going on to win the gold and the outstanding Val Barker trophy, as Saitov had done four years earlier. For Kazakhstan, that unexpected win was to be the first of three consecutive Olympic welterweight golds for the national team, as southpaws Bakhyt Sarsekbayev (Beijing 2008) and Serik Sapiyev (London 2012) went on to establish their country’s dominance in the weight category. This year, the responsibility to continue that winning run falls to Daniyar Yeleussinov, a 2013 AIBA World Champion and one of only a few boxers capable of halting Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias in Rio.