Gary Russell, Jr. Named USA Boxing’s 2005 Male Athlete of the Year

By Courtesy of The Washington Informer Newspaper
Updated: December 21, 2005

COLORADO SPRINGS,COLO. Bantamweight Gary Russell, Jr. (Capitol Heights, Md.) has been named USA Boxing’s 2005 Male Athlete of the Year following his breakout rookie year. Russell emerged on the senior scene for the first time in 2005 and put on a show throughout the year.

Russell earned his first senior national title at only 16-years-old, winning the 2005 U.S. Championships bantamweight title at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., in March. The former Junior Olympic champion took over the bantamweight division with four impressive victories at the premier national championship event of the year. His U.S. Championships title earned the Washington D.C. area teenager a spot on USA Boxing’s Elite Team and the number one ranking in his bantamweight division.

Yet the Maryland phenom didn’t stop at one national title, he went on to win the 2005 National Golden Gloves championships in Little Rock, Ark., in May as well. Russell dominated his division at the Golden Gloves, winning his first round contest on a retirement and his next three bouts on unanimous 5-0 decisions. He became one of only two boxers to win both the U.S. Championships and National Golden Gloves with his second national title before his 17th birthday.

Due to his young age, Russell couldn’t compete in international competition until June and he boxed in his first-ever international event in the 2005 World Cup in Moscow, Russia. Despite facing an early deficit, Russell came rearing back in the second half of the contest to win a 21-20 decision over Belarus in his international debut. The then 17-year-old was one of only five U.S. boxers to win a bout at the elite World Cup event.

Russell continued his theme of competing in elite international events in November, traveling to Mianyang City, China for the 2005 World Amateur Boxing Championships, November 11-20. Despite the young pressure of a World Championships, the remarkably mature and focused Russell remained unfazed. He won three straight consecutive bouts at the event, defeating a former European champion in his first bout to win a bronze medal at his first-ever World Championships. He joined 2004 Olympian Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) as the only two boxers to win a medal at the 2005 World Championships.

Russell’s success throughout 2005 allowed him to maintain his number one ranking from the first quarter rankings through the fourth quarter standings. He was one of only four boxers in the United States to maintain his number one position throughout 2005. With unprecedented success both nationally and internationally in his first year in the senior division, Russell is one of the top Olympic hopefuls in the United States and he will look to continue his reign in 2006.