1988 SEOUL OLYMPICS

GUTS AND GLORY

RIC DOLPHIN September 12 1988
1988 SEOUL OLYMPICS

GUTS AND GLORY

RIC DOLPHIN September 12 1988

GUTS AND GLORY

BOXING

Canadian Olympic lightweight Asif Dar, now 22, came to Toronto’s tough Regent Park apartment project from Pakistan with his family in 1977. “Every day on my way to school, someone would call me names,” he recalls. “So I took up boxing and earned some respect.” While not the most respected of Canada’s medal contenders in the 12 weight classes at the Seoul Summer Games,

Dar might finally get lucky.

A lottery system pairs opponents at the Olympics, and a fortuitous draw can result in relatively easy opponents until the semifinals. But there are always intangibles. “You can figure somebody as a weak guy,” explained Gerald Shears, Canada’s representative to the International Amateur Boxing Association.

“But with one punch, he can end the day.”

In the absence of the boycotting Cubans —the best amateur boxing team—the Americans, Soviets and East Germans are expected to cause the majority of early sunsets in Seoul. Adrian Teodorescu, 45, a training consultant with the Canadian team, predicts that the three nations will win at least two gold medals each.

That would leave six golds for quadrennial bridesmaids Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, South Korea and Canada to fight over. “Canada stands a good chance of winning two golds,” said Teodorescu. “We have our strongest team ever.”

However accurate, the claim is relative. Welterweight Albert Schneider, in 1920 in Antwerp, and bantamweight Horace (Lefty) Gwynne, in 1932 at the Los Angeles Games, are Canada’s only boxing gold medallists. It was not until the Olympics returned to Los Angeles in 1984 that Canadians contended again. Then, Grande Prairie, Alta., heavyweight Willie deWit and Toronto light middleweight Shawn O’Sullivan won silvers and bantamweight

Dale Walters of Vancouver won a bronze.

Much of the 1988 Canadian team’s strength rests with British-born superheavyweight Lennox Lewis, 23, ranked third in the world. He will have to get past Soviet Alexandr Miroshnichenko and East German Ulli Kaden, a six-foot, seven-inch electrical engineer. The American

hope is Riddick Bowe, 21, a six-foot, fiveinch business and drama student.

Egerton Marcus, 23, is Canada’s middleweight—165 lb.—hope. He possesses a powerful right, but it may not be enough to handle East German Henry Maske or U.S. army champion Anthony Hembrick. But, says Marcus: “I’m not going to put my hands behind my back and say ‘I’ll settle for silver.’ ”

Nor will Tom Glesby, Canada’s sixfoot, two-inch heavyweight—200 lb.— who, at 19, is the youngest member of the team. Glesby’s ironworker father put him in the ring at age 11 to toughen him up. Now the Welland, Ont., high-school student wears a street kid’s long hair and punches hard and fast. Said Canadian head coach Taylor Gordon: “He is a superior puncher to what deWit was at 18 and has more moves than deWit did in 1984.” Glesby will need all the right moves if he meets U.S. heavyweight Ray Mercer, 27, who, according to Teodorescu, is a “killer with his right hook.”

The host South Koreans are expected to dominate the lighter weight categories led by top-ranked light flyweight—106 lb.—Kwang Sun Kim. He and many South Koreans are still bitter over what they considered to be biased judging in favor of U.S. boxers at the 1984 Games, where Americans won nine gold medals. Explained Korean Amateur Boxing Association president Seung Youn Kim: “All the Americans won. I think sometimes they lose, and they still win.”

If Canadian lightweight Dar defeats European champion Emil Tchutrenski of =! Bulgaria and South Korean § Kwang Su Oh, he says that z he may finally be able to 5 sleep at night. In the past, g he has suffered from insomz nia, getting up during the £ night and running through I the streets of his neighborhood, recalling the days in Regent Park where 10 years ago kids called him a “dirty Paki.” He acknowledges: “I hate the odds. But I just don’t want to think of myself as a quitter.” Win or lose, Dar, his teammates and their opponents have proven that they are anything but quitters just by reaching the ring in Seoul.

-RIC DOLPHIN with HEATHER KNEEN in Ottawa

HEATHER KNEEN