2012 SUMMER OLYMPICS Athletes to watch
ABOVE PHOTO: Rau’Shee Warren.
Rau’shee hails from the impoverished Westwood community of Cincinnati. At the age of 6, he began training at the same East Side gym where former Junior Welterweight champion Aaron Pryor trained in the 1970s and 1980s. Warren won his first amateur fight at age of 8.
At his first AIBA American 2004 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, at the age of 17, he upset Rayonta Whitfield and Diego Hurtado and international competitors Raúl Castañeda (Mexico), and Miguel Miranda (Venezuela) to qualify as the U.S. boxing team’s 106-pound light flyweight representative at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He was both the youngest boxer in the games and the youngest US male in all sports. He was eliminated by the favored Zou Shiming of China in the first round.
He moved up to flyweight soon after and in 2005 and 2006 became US champion. At the 2005 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Mianyang he avenged a previous loss to European champion Georgy Balakshin before losing to the Korean surprise winner Lee Ok-Sung and having to settle for bronze.
In 2006 Light middleweight Akima Stocks and Warren were named USA Boxing’s 2006 Athletes of the Year. That year he also moved up to fight as a bantamweight, and lost to highly regarded Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in November.
In 2007 he returned to the flyweight ranks and repeated as US champion.
At the 2007 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Chicago he was defeated European Champion Georgy Balakshin in a rematch and Samir Mammadov, to reach the finals. In the finals he defeated Thai Somjit Jongjohor.
In 2008 he became the first American boxer in more than 30 years to compete in two Olympic Games, accomplishing something not done since Davey Lee Armstrong in 1972 and ’76.
The Cincinnati native will become the first U.S. boxer to compete in three Olympics. This time Warren, a flyweight at 112 pounds, says he’s matured and learned from the disappointments. He has two sons Rau’shee Jr. (4 years old) and Rue’shee (10 months).
He’s also had the opportunity to work with legendary trainer Freddie Roach, who signed on as a consultant with USA Boxing after the 2008 team failed to win a gold medal. Warren says Roach paid him the greatest compliment, comparing him to star boxer Manny Pacquiao, because of his speed and “the way I deliver my power.”
He says he’ll turn pro after London. But until then, Warren is hoping to share an Olympic gold medal with his mom Paulette, who’s always supported his dream.