By Keith Idec
Teddy Atlas has had a front-row view of the complete collapse of USA Boxing.
The outspoken ESPN analyst/trainer, who called the Olympic action in London for NBC Sports, was so disgusted by America’s poor performance in men’s boxing that he sees only one alternative for the embattled, Colorado Springs-based amateur program.
“As far as my overall view on the Olympics, well, first of all, take a wrecking ball to USA Boxing,” Atlas said during ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” telecast Friday night from Cabazon, Calif. “Demolish it. Get rid of the executive board, [that’s] a good place to start.
“They’re the ones making the decisions, they’re the ones that are having the ideas of how to go about choosing the team and the setup. … Get new people in there, [reinvigorate] USA Boxing, try to bring it back close to the team that used to be one of the top teams to watch in the Olympic competitions.”
The United States has won just one gold medal in men’s boxing since Philadelphia’s David Reid won one at 156 pounds during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and none since Oakland’s Andre Ward won gold at 178 pounds during the 2004 games in Athens. The United States has won a record 108 Olympic medals in men’s boxing, but the 2012 games in London marked the first time since the team’s creation that the United States didn’t win a gold, silver or bronze medal in men’s boxing.
Overall, U.S. men’s boxers went 5-9 in London. Only Errol Spence, a 152-pound fighter from Dallas, won a bout beyond the opening round of competition, which only came after a successful appeal following an official review of his controversial Round of 16 bout with India's Krishan Vikas.
That terrible showing accentuated USA Boxing’s slippage in recent years and caught the attention of United States Olympic Committee chief executive officer Scott Blackmun.
“We’re going to sit down and take a hard look at why we are where we are and make some changes [to USA Boxing],” Blackmun said Saturday during a news conference in London, according to The Associated Press. “I don’t want to say anything beyond that.”
While he couldn’t offer specifics just yet, Blackmun emphasized the need to significantly improve USA Boxing before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“We’re disappointed in boxing,” Blackmun said. “We want to do better, particularly in men’s boxing. By saying disappointed in boxing, I don’t mean in the people. I mean we’re disappointed that we didn’t do better in boxing, because I know that we can do better and we have to focus on how we do that.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.
Tags: Amateur Boxing