Gary Russell, Jr. Making Strides Towards The 2008 Olympics

By Kevin Wilson
Updated: October 2, 2006

MARYLAND—Gary Russell, Jr. the number one amateur international bantamweight champion of the world chose the most seclusion spot to tell the news. Sitting in his parents’ mini van in their driveway in Capitol Heights, Maryland.

This year, Gary (181 wins- 11 defeats) rejected two bout invitations for valid reasons. After training 30 days for a national tournament, he felt that he didn’t want to burn himself out. Therefore, he and his father declined the invites to Florida and Baltimore. The tournament in Baltimore had the 119- pound pugilist being coached by Barry Hunter, a trainer who told the Prince George’s County Olympian Hopeful that he would not be victorious at the Junior Olympics in Brownsville, Texas in 2004. “Hunter, the coach of the D.C. Headbangers, didn’t think that I had the skills to win,” Gary remembered. Once again, Gary proved the adversary wrong and refuses to allow anyone to dampen his confidence. ” When everything else fails, your corner man is your last line of defense,” he said.

Since graduating from Green Valley Academy in June, he’s been training twice a day at the Hillcrest Heights boxing gym in the morning, and during the evening, at the Nomis Youth Network Center in northeast, D.C. “Since 1999, out of all the guys who’s been coming to this boxing establishment, Gary Russell, Jr. is the fastest I’ve seen,” Robert Simon, director of Nomis Youth Network Center said.

The 18- year old, boxing scholarship recipient, recently spent eight days in Carson California. There, he performed exceptionally well at the Rock of Excellence Center during the 2006 Blue and Gold Tournament, sponsored by Amateurs to Professionals – U.S.A. Boxing in the latter part of August.

Within an eight-day period, Gary fought three times. However, during the final contest, he confronted his pal, Shawn Nichols. The two met at the Junior Olympics. Gary was always a weight class higher. When the duo arrived at this particular tournament, Gary asked Shawn, what weight class are you in? “119,” Nichols replied. Gary told Shawn, you are my friend, but I don’t want to lose. And, he didn’t. For their overall showmanship in the ring, both fighters were compensated, as Gary was voted the Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament. “He is one of the top fighters in the country, and his hand speed, agility and power against great competition is what we wanted to see. We hope he gets a spot on the international team and we wish him the best,� said Jeremy Berg, a representative from Amateurs to Professionals.

Gary Russell, Sr., a former boxing, inspired by his Uncle, Bob Foster, the former light heavyweight champion, was pleased with his son’s conduct in and out of the ring. Outside the ring, Gary understood the politics in boxing. He never vanished off to do anything on his own. Promoters were presenting Gary, a potential pro athlete with contract offers and financial promises. “People were actually going against what Michael King was actually demonstrating, which was a boxing tournament,” the father noticed.

Many feel that U.S.A. Boxing is going in the right direction, especially Gary Russell, Jr. He’s elated that the committee is going to permit the boxer’s coaches to represent. Previously, the athletes were stripped from their primary coaches. “My father and assistant coach, Robert Herb Martin mean a lot to me. They know my capabilities and how to bring the best out of me. It would mean the world to have them in my corner in the 2008 Olympics. I believe U.S.A. Boxing will make a way to have the fighters around coaches they are comfortable with.”

September 30 to October 7 is the Olympic Trials at the Police Athletic League Tournament in Oxnard, California. Gary departed on Friday at 8am from Baltimore Washington International Airport back out west to make another statement. “U.S.A. Boxing is extremely pleased with Gary’s talent,” says Julie Goldsticker, director of public relations for U.S.A. Boxing. He won in Russia, Greece and earned a bronze in China. With the proper training and determination, he can revisit China in 2008, and bring home the gold.

Dave Jacobs is the first boxing trainer from Maryland to bring home a gold medallist winner in Sugar Ray Leonard, in 1976. He has seen three decades of boxing. “Gary, Jr. can fight and as long as he listens to his father and assistant trainer, he’ll have a chance to excel. I hope he makes the team and his brother, Allan, the 2006 Golden Gloves Champ is not far behind,” the hall of fame inductee said.

When turning professional, Gary Russell, Jr says, that Michael King, the C. E. O. of Amateurs to Professionals, will be his promoter. Stay tune, boxing fans. The best is yet to come for this Marylander.

Kevin Wilson- Freelance Writer and Publicist from Largo, Maryland