The light welterweight (64kg) stars of the Games
July 31st, 2016 / IBA
The 1976 US Boxing Team is widely considered one of the finest ever gathered in the history of the Games, between them winning five gold medals, a silver and a bronze in Montreal. The new Olympic champions were brothers Leon and Michael Spinks, Howard Davis, Leo Randolph and an aspiring light welterweight named Sugar Ray Leonard.
Four years earlier, Leonard narrowly missed out on a place at the Munich Games, but after impressing the assistant coach with his ‘sweet style’ he made it into the national team for Munich 1976 complete with a new nickname: ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard. Far from finding himself forever in the shadow of legendary namesake Sugar Ray Robinson, Leonard romped to the Olympic title, winning all six bouts by a score of 5:0. In his 145 contests up to that point, Sugar Ray Leonard had compiled a 145-5 record, including 75 TKO victories.
Three editions before Leonard made his mark, Poland’s Jerzy Kulej had established himself as one of the all-time light flyweight greats with back-to-back Olympic gold medals. The first came at Tokyo 1964 courtesy of superb performances in the semi-final and final, but he was made to work much harder four years later in Mexico City. Cuba’s Enrique Requeiferos pushed Kulej right to the final bell, but he remained undaunted, becoming the first Polish athlete ever to win two Olympic gold medals.
Another of Cuba’s remarkable roll-call of Olympic double gold-winners is Hector Vinent. Bursting on to the scene at the Barcelona 1992 Games, the light welterweight’s first competition as an elite boxer, Vinent powered through to the gold with an incredible aggregate score of 91-13 across five bouts. A year later, the Cuban revelation landed the first of two AIBA World titles, before successfully defending his Olympic crown in Atlanta in 1996 at the age of 23. Only early retirement prevented Vinent from trying to join compatriots Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon’s record of three Olympic golds, and at 43 he now works as a successful coach in Havana.