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Shakur Stevenson & Gary Russell Roll into the Quarterfinal Round at the 2016 Olympic Games!
August 14, 2016: Two young American boxers put on a great showing in an undefeated afternoon for the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team at the 2016 Olympic Games. Bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) and light welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.) both won their preliminary bouts on Sunday at Riocentro Pavilion 6 to clinch spots in the quarterfinal round. The pair now only needs one more victory to secure a berth on the medal stand. American light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) received his bronze medal at the conclusion of the first session on Sunday afternoon.

Junior and Youth World Champion and Youth Olympic Games gold medalist Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) had to endure a week-long wait before finally competing in his first bout of the Olympic Games on Sunday. For the second straight day, an American boxer walked to the ring to thundering boos but Stevenson ignored the crowd and displayed his signature smile as he walked to the ring for his bout with Brazil’s Robenilson de Jesus. The crowd cheered every punch de Jesus threw but Stevenson didn’t give in to his surroundings or his awkward opponent. He took the early part of the first round to shake some ring rest and find his distance before settling in to the bout. He began landing long shots to his opponent’s body and head and ended the round strongly to take the opening stanza on two of the three judges’ scorecards. He really began to get comfortable in the second round, using his effective movement and spatial awareness to outbox De Jesus. He turned it up late in the second to take the round on two judges scorecards once again. In the third round, the two boxers clashed heads which re-opened the cut on the Brazilian boxer’s head. After the AIBA cutman worked on the cut for a short period, the two returned to action and Stevenson looked to go in for the kill. He landed three uppercuts on the ropes, sending the Brazilian’s head flying upward. Stevenson continued to land combinations until the final bell before being named the victor by unanimous decision for his first Olympic Games victory. 

“Before I heard the crowd, I was really excited but when I got there and they started booing, I got a little nervous. I was excited for the most part. I didn’t really have a game plan. I wanted to see what he was going to do. I realized he’s got long arms and tries to stay on the outside and make it ugly so I had to press him out, go forward,” Stevenson said. “I started going forward, started touching his cut. I saw he had a cut so I kept hitting it. He got tired at the end and I started teeing off on him but once I started teeing off on him, I was like alright, I got this.” 

Sunday drew one of the biggest crowds of the Olympic Games at Riocentro Pavilion 6 so Stevenson was greeted with an even louder chorus of boos than he expected when he was walking to the ring. “I’ve never gotten booed like that in my life. I knew it was coming but once you were there, it was a little different than what you expected. I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. Once I heard boo, I was like dang, they’re going in,” he said.

Stevenson has been waiting to compete in the Olympic Games since he was a young child so the extra week of waiting for his first bout was a bit torturous to the 19-year-old. “That was the worst part about this whole thing (waiting to compete). I haven’t fought since March so I got a little ring rust off. The whole time I was waiting. I don’t have good patience so it hurt watching all my teammates fighting and I’m not in action. The time away from the ring got to me a little bit. I’ve been sparring a lot but it’s different from fighting. It got to me a little bit but I’m gonna get there. Now we’re good, now we have Mongolia next and I plan on taking him out too,” Stevenson said.

His mother Malikah, dad Shahid and grandfather/co-trainer Wali Moses were all on hand cheering him along and he was able to see and hear them during his Olympic debut. “I heard them when they started checking his cut. I looked up at them,” he said. 

With one victory in the bank, the internationally defeated boxer is looking to improve in his next bout. “That was a C minus performance, we’ve got to get it to an A,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson will face Mongolia’s Tsendbaatar Erdenebat in the quarterfinal round for a spot on the medal stand at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Russell competed in his second bout of the Olympic Games approximately 90 minutes after Stevenson’s opener. He faced off with Thailand’s Wuttichai Masuk in a highly entertaining bout in the light welterweight division. Both boxers started quickly in the bout which was high activity through all nine minutes. Russell started aggressively and looked to exert his will on his opponent, showing off his combination of power and hand speed. His efforts earned Russell the first round on all three judges’ scorecards. Russell came out aggressively once again in the second but the paced slowly slightly as he worked behind a high guard and looked to box Masuk more. He entered the final three minutes needing the third round on the scorecards and his offensive output showed his desire to win the bout. He punched off the blocks while the Thai boxer looked to land shots from the outside. Russell landed several strong combinations late to seal the victory and claimed a split decision over Masuk by split decision.  {More . . . }
Building Future Champions With Your Donations 

Why is your donation important to the New Jersey Association of Amateur Boxing important? And why does every single dollar make a difference? 

This question can be easily answered if you walk into any local boxing gym in New Jersey and see the amazing levels of talent and drive that these young adults have in the ring. But if you don’t have time to see the action yourself, then we can update you on how the New Jersey Association of Amateur Boxing has grown over the past few years as a result of your donations and our youth’s hard work and determination. 

In the past there has sadly been a lack of opportunities for athletes to compete at the Junior Olympic level, but over the years as the youth programs have grown, the number of regional and national champions in New Jersey is now at an all-time high. Proof in point, during the 2015 Junior Olympics New Jersey’s team came back with five Region One champions! As a result of such great success in the ring, the New Jersey leadership team saw the need to offer additional opportunities for our youth outside the ring as well, with a program called “Champions of Life” created by Rob Griffin and Jacklyn Atkins. The program features a series of seminars that combine Olympic style boxing training with sessions on how to live healthy lifestyles.

One of the athletes who has benefited from the opportunities offered to the youth of New Jersey, is standout star of the year Shakur Stevenson. Just recently his lifelong dream came true when he qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro at just eighteen years old. Stevenson, a Newark native who started mimicking the boxers he saw on TV when he was just two years old. Shakur has been with the New Jersey Amateur Boxing Program for eleven years. 

To put things into perspective, the LBC spent over $40,000. in 2015 to support junior athletes competing in regional and national tournaments. Now with the growing amount of opportunities for our junior boxers arising including participating in the New Jersey Silver Gloves, Junior Olympic Independent Gloves, Ringside World Tournament and other tournaments where athletes are required to travel across the United States., every dollar that is donated helps. 

If you are interested in donating towards the New Jersey Amateur Boxing Program and helping kids like Shakur become champions of life, please click below! 

Shakur Stevenson Rio 2016 Olympics