Following a defiant seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12...
Prince George’s County 2008 Olympian Hopeful
photo by Robert H. Eubanks
MARYLAND—Move over, Sugar Ray Leonard!
Behind the busy Mc Donald’s on Marlboro Pike in Capitols Heights, Maryland, young kids on Omaha Street compete riding their bikes. In a duplex, four bedroom, middle class brick house, the Russell brothers train in the basement under the guidance of Gary Russell, Sr. and Robert Martin. One in particular, is Gary Russell, Jr., a 2008 Olympian boxing hopeful.
Observing uncle Bob Foster, a former light heavyweight champ, who fought Ali, his father and brother in the ring, stimulated Gary to indulge.
The tenacious, lightning quick, prizefighter is a puncher, no doubt. During a punching contest, the Prince Georgian was nominated the hardest puncher. “ With several knockouts, my speed sets up the opponents for the kill,” he humbly voiced. Most fighters he’s faced, thus far, are one -dimensional. However, a foe as equally as quick gives Russell, Jr. a hard time. His favorite punch is the right hook.
With over 100 trophies and a record of 163-10, Gary has won locally, nationally and internationally. Displaying untapped skills in 2002, Russell, Jr. won the Hobo Boxing Tournament at the D.C. Convention Center, received the Outstanding Boxer Award, and became a 112- pound champ, the following year. Doing what he loves, he was victorious in the 2004 summer boxing classic in Augusta, Georgia.
Traveling to Pittsburgh for the U.S.A. Boxing East Central Junior Olympics Championship, Gary conquered the 114- pound division. Daveida Jacobs, president of the Potomac Valley Association U.S.A. Boxing Incorporation declares, “that Gary Russell, Jr. is our next county 2008 Olympian hopeful. “He has won every major tournament in his weight class, he’s mature and humorous, and very quick,” she observed.
Older competitors do not intimidate him at all. At 16, Gary was the youngest member of the U.S.A. Boxing Elite squad to demolish an opponent, 24. The 2005 Golden Gloves and Junior Olympic champ, weighing 119, at 5 foot 3 competed in the Amateur International Boxing Association World Cup in Moscow, Russia on July 13, 2005. Winning the final two rounds, 21-20 over 26- year old Chavazhi Khatsygov of Belarus, at the Malaya Sport Arena of Olympic Complex, did the job. “ He was a bronze medalist in the previous world games,” he remembered.
In Colorado Springs, during the 2005 U.S. Finalist Championships, Russell, Jr. fought a tough challenger in Troy Wohosky from Medford, Oregon. In the third round, his speed and power stepped up a notch, to win 14-4 to advance. A 16-5 decision over Sytel Wilbarn in the finale put the icing on the cake.
Gary’s primary purpose is to win the Men’s World Championship Title in Beijing, China, in November. Preparing for a September 17 title fight at the George Mason University’s Patriots Center, Lamont Pearson, a U.S.B.A. titleholder invited the youngster to a sparring session. “ I chose Gary for his speed, which helped me tremendously for my title shot,” said Pearson, now a two-time U.S.B.A. champion. “ He has unbelievable talent to be so young.”
One domestic hardship impels Gary Russell, Jr academically and in the ring. When he began boxing, an older and younger brother, DeVaughn and Allen was present. The trio fought 90 bouts on the same card. Unfortunately, on March 10, 2004 De Vaughn, an amateur titleholder was killed. “ I feel like I’m short of a team member right now, but it motivates me a lot,” says the Greenbelt Academy student. Russell, Jr. has been featured on E.S.P.N. Classic and the Glenn Harris Sports Talk Show.
The number one amateur international champ, at 119, will attend the United States Olympic Education Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University in 2006 on a boxing scholarship. With a respectable right hook, this Math lover considers himself educated, strong, and creative with a great personality. Leroy Palmer, a 30- year county resident met the Russell tribe two years ago. “This young man is clean cut, a role model and about his business.”
Gary Russell, Sr. believes strongly that his son has the potential to go all the way. “If he makes the Olympic team, he has expressed to go professional,” he says.
On September 29. Gary Russell, Jr. was nominated the 2005 Outstanding Amateur Boxer of the Year. “Finally someone is writing about this kid, “ says Allen Nader, U.S.A. Boxing Tournament Administration Committee Chair. “He’s really progressed and he’s truly a quality boxer, who can win the gold medal.”
A newly built, state of the art, African American History and Culture Museum in Baltimore for Marylanders opened in June. With a charming smile, Gary Russell, Jr. says humbly, “some day I’ll be there.” Already he’s got my vote.