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Boxing: Nations with lone Olympic medals

PUBLISHED: 11:30 10 May 2020

Rio Olympic bronze medalist Croatia's Filip Hrgovic (right) in action against Eric Molina in a WBC International heavyweight championship contest at the Diriyah Arena, Diriyah, Saudi Arabia

Rio Olympic bronze medalist Croatia's Filip Hrgovic (right) in action against Eric Molina in a WBC International heavyweight championship contest at the Diriyah Arena, Diriyah, Saudi Arabia

PA Wire/PA Images

There are 13 countries who have secured just one medal – either silver or bronze – in the Olympic boxing ring.

In some cases this medal is the only one they have ever secured with plenty of interesting stories to tell, some a little bit unique to the Games.

To try and give a helpful timeline for these particular countries involvement with the Summer Olympics, I have indicated when they first competed as such, although not necessarily fielding

boxers then or indeed, in some, or any of the subsequent Olympic boxing tournaments.

In no particular order, Armenia is up first. A former Soviet Republic, entered as an independent entity in the 1996 Games but previously involved as the Soviet Union and in 1992 part of the Unified Team/CIS.

In 2008, Hrachik Javakhyan lost in his semi-final to great Russian lightweight Aleksei Tishchenko, who was defending and ultimately winning his second Olympic gold.

Javakhyan suffered a similar fate at the hands of Tishchenko on another occasion, winning silver in the final of the European Championships in 2006 in Bulgaria. An Olympic bronze and a European silver after defeat at the hands of Tishchenko is no mean return for the Armenian.

Bermuda: Bermuda has entered the Games since 1936, the 1980 boycott apart, and its only ever medal was a bronze won by heavyweight Clarence Hill in 1976, who lost a semi-final to

Romania’s Mircea Simon, who in turn lost to the late great Cuban Teofilo Stevenson in their final.

Georgia-born Ramaz Paliani is a very interesting southpaw who became a top quality 57kg competitor, nicknamed by many as ”Razzamataza” who competed at three Games, quite a feat in the boxing ring.

He did so under three different flags, in 1992 for the Unified Team/CIS, although Georgia at that time was not a member of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), in 1996 for Russia and in 2000 for Turkey!

In Barcelona in 1992, he won a featherweight bronze and in 2000 in Sydney he was eliminated on points in his quarter-final, losing 12-11 to Kazakhstan’s eventual gold medallist Bekzat Sattarkhanov.

Sadly, less than three months later, Sattarkhanov was killed in a car accident on New Year’s Eve in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. Two other occupants in the car survived, thus a promising amateur boxing career was cut tragically short at a mere 20 years of age.

Paliani later turned professional and had a relatively successful, if not spectacular, paid ring career.

Guyana, for its first five Olympic entries commencing in 1948, was known as British Guiana but for the 1968 Games and ever since – the 1976 boycott apart – it has been known as Guyana.

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Bantamweight Michael Anthony won his country’s only ever medal, a bronze, after losing to eventual gold medallist Juan Hernandez of Cuba.

Lithuania competed in the 1924 and 1928 Games but then not until 1952 when, until 1988, it was part of the then Soviet Union team.

In 1992 it competed at the Summer Games as an independent nation, not as part of the Unified/CIS team, and at London 2012 lightweight Evaldas Petrauskas won bronze after losing to South Korea’s eventual silver medallist Han Sun-Cheol.

Mauritius first entered the Games in 1984 and has only ever secured one bronze medal since – and that came in the Olympic boxing ring in 2008 when bantamweight Bruno Jolie lost his semi-final with Cuban Yankiel Leon, who eventually won silver.

Niger first competed in 1962, but was part of boycotts in 1976 and 1980, and light-welterweight Issake Dabore got a bronze after his semi-final to eventual silver medallist from Bulgaria, Angel Angelov. He remains Niger’s only Olympic medallist.

Pakistan has been in the Games since 1948, the boycott of 1980 apart, and middleweight Syed Hussain Shah got a bronze after losing to eventual silver medallist Egerton Marcus of Canada. Shah was his country’s first-ever Olympic medallist.

Syria first entered the Games in 1948, then missed the next four Olympiads before returning in 1960 with Egypt as part of the United Arab Republic.

It returned in its own right in 1968, after boycotting the 1976 Games along with many African nations, and in 2004 heavyweight Nasser Al Shami, became one of only three medallists to date when he won boxing bronze after losing to eventual gold medallist Odlanier Solis of Cuba.

Tajikistan entered the Games as an independent nation in 1996 having been part of the Soviet Union team from 1952-1988 and in 1992 part of the Unified Team/CIS.

At London 2012 women’s lightweight entrant Mavzuna Chorieva won bronze and is one of only three of the country’s Olympic medallists having lost her semi-final to Ireland’s phenomenal Katie Taylor, who won gold.

South American nation Uruguay first entered the Games in 1924 and has been ever-present since, the 1980 boycott apart, with their only boxing medal being a bronze for bantamweight Washington Rodriguez in 1964, after losing to eventual gold medallist Takao Sakurai of Japan.

Zambia first entered the Olympic ring in 1964, as part of Rhodesia (Northern Rhodesia in fact) and has been present since, apart from the 1976 boycott.

It has only won two Olympic medals, with one coming in the ring thanks to a bronze for light-flyweight Keith Mwila, who lost to eventual silver medallist Salvatore Todisco of Italy.

In Rio 2016, Croatia won their first medal when super-heavyweight Filip Hrgovic took bronze after losing a split decision in his semi-final to eventual champion Tony Yoka of France.

It is interesting to see that where countries have only achieved very limited medal achievements, boxing often provides them with a successful outlet.

It is hard to see many, If indeed any, of these nations building on their current ring success, but one never knows and it will be interesting to see if any do, or for that matter, if any other countries not normally associated with ring success join this particular list. We shall see, enjoy the wait.


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