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Beijing Olympic Boxing: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
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09:03, September 01, 2008

Now the Beijing Olympics is already in the history book, and my life as an Olympic journalist has gone away with the passage of Beijing's hot air, both in and outside the ring. Everything seems to be back to normal, except for the memories lingering around my heart.

While still not getting used to life after the Games, I decided to ease my post-Olympic blues by reliving some of the good, the bad and the ugly moments of the 2008 Beijing Olympic boxing tournament.

【 The Good 】 【 The Bad 】 【 The Ugly 】

The Good

Striking Gold On Home Turf

On the hot afternoon of Aug 24, 2008 at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium, China closed its 51-gold solo Olympic show with two golds, one silver and one bronze in the square ring.

The Eastern Dragon smashed the triopoly of Cuba, Russia and the United States, any of whom had ruled the tally table in boxing at every Olympics since 1942.

Cuba bagged eight total medals – four silvers, four bronzes, yet no golds. Russia leveled China in golds, but trailed by one silver on the table. The once towering United States ended up with no gold, no silver, but merely a single bronze.

Zou Shiming of China, left, won the light flyweight 48 kilogram Olympic boxing gold medal by defeating Serdamba Purevdorj of Mongolia in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008. Bronze medalists are Yampier Hernandez G of Cuba and Paddy Barnes of Ireland. (People's Daily online Photo/Zhenyu Li)

With two golds, one silver and one bronze, China emerged as the new king in the amateur boxing world.

Being the host nation can be a double-edged sword, as the expectation of performing on home soil is way above the norm and the pressure has to be measured against the boost from the local media, as witnessed by Chinese shooter Li Du's failure to win the first gold medal of the Games.

Yet, Chinese boxers not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded their high expectations.

China's light flyweight Shiming Zou launched the bonanza by winning in an unexpectedly easy fashion when the other finalist from Mongolian retired with a shoulder injury that had plagued him before the Games early in the second.

Two hours later, the biggest dark horse of the Olympic boxing tournament Chinese light heavyweight Xiaoping Zhang resumed Zou's remarkable feat, doubling the host nation's boxing golden tally by outpointing Kenny Egan 11-7.

Zhang Xiaoping of China celebrates after defeating Kenny Egan of Ireland in the men's light heavyweight 81 final boxing match to win the last gold medal for China at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008. Bronze medalists are Tony Jeffries of Britain and Yerkebulan Shynaliyev of Kazakhstan seen at the right. (People's Daily Photo/Zhenyu Li)

China's third finalist super heavyweight Zhilei Zhang was blocked from winning the third boxing gold medal for China by the talented Italian Roberto Cammarelle.

The 6'7" Chinese giant was no match against the 6'3" Italian little big man, who breezed into the final with an effortless knockout victory over Britain's Commonwealth title holder David Price and had the edges in hand speed, athletism and ring generalship.

Although being dominated from the sound of the opening bell and taking several crunching blows to the jaw, the valiant Zhang showed no signs of fear and demonstrated admirable resistance.

By the time the third round was over, the Italian super heavyweight world champion had taken an 11-3 lead.

That became 13-4 by the fourth before Cammarelle landed a vicious short left hook, which dropped the World Championships bronze medalist to his knees. The gallant Zhang beat the count, but the merciful referee waved off the bout, putting an end to Zhang's seemly endless punishment, and also putting China's finishing touches of its Olympic medals, the 100th, in Beijing.

The World Championships welterweight bronze medalist Hanati finished third again when he was awarded the bronze medal together with Korean Jungjoo Kim at the medal ceremony after the welterweight final, one hour before Zhilei Zhang concluded China's medal bonanza with a super heavyweight silver.

Last year in Chicago, nearly 600 boxers from more than a hundred countries participated in the 2007 World Boxing Championships, yet China stood out from the crowd by reaping one gold, four bronzes and seven "Olympic tickets," with nine out of eleven participants cruising to the eighth-finals and seven to the quarterfinals.

This year in Beijing, a total of 286 elite boxers from all round the sport's powerhouses gathered at the 2008 Olympic boxing arena, with the mighty Cuba standing in the way, China took a step further by winning two golds, one silver and one bronze with a historical six boxers make it into the quarterfinals, notwithstanding.

The sleeping boxing Giant is now awakening, and looks set to rule the roost for a long time to come.

Rose In Blossom

While China rang down the curtain on the Beijing Olympic Games with a history-making boxing boom, the 2012 Olympics' host nation Great Britain came back home with a full blossom in the sport as well.

Great Britain, known for its emblem - the rose, reaped its best medal haul in over half a century since Melbourne Olympics in 1956, with one gold and two bronzes.

Despite Britain's biggest gold medal hopeful Frankie Gavin's pre-game exit, due to the weight-making issues, James DeGale take over the torch to ignite his golden moment.

Although the draw put the British team in a dead group - Degale's path was hindered by the reigning Olympic champion Bakhiytar Artayev, while super heavyweight David Price had to confront the European super heavyweight champion Islam Timurziev in his opening fight, the British boxers performed more than creditably.

David Price and Light heavyweight Tony Jeffries both squeezed into the semifinals, while James DeGale danced his way to the final rivalry and brawled his way to the golden glory.

Will the gold medal dangling from DeGale's neck still shine in the London Olympics? Would the two bronzes turn into golds on their home soil? We'll see in four years' time.
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