The USA Boxing National Championships is the premier amateur and Olympic-style boxing event in the United States. The 2009 edition will feature boxers in both the Junior Olympic and senior division in addition to women’s competitors for the first time in history. Over 400 of the nation’s top amateur boxers, ranging in age from 15-34 will travel to Denver for the annual event, showcasing the future stars of the sport. With four rings and six full days of competition from June 8 to 13, the USA Boxing National Championships promise an action-packed sports experience from start to finish at the Denver Coliseum.
The USA Boxing National Championships are moving out of Colorado Springs for the first time since 2002, and will be held in Denver in both 2009 and 2010 with assistance from a grant from the Denver-based Daniels Fund. Both the 2009 and 2010 events will provide the first glimpse at many of the athletes who will vie for a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team. Three of the national champions from the 2005 event went on to earn berths on the 2008 Olympic Team, and 2005 titlists Rau’shee Warren and Demetrius Andrade earned world titles in 2007.
Several Denver-area boxers are expected to compete in the tournament, including defending champions Louie Byrd of Denver and Greeley’s Robert Rodriguez. In addition, two-time Olympian and 2007 World Champion Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) and 2008 Featherweight Olympian Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) are scheduled to return to the national scene in Denver. Two of the nation’s top super heavyweights: U.S. Olympic Team Trials Champion Michael Hunter (Las Vegas, Nev.) and 2008 Youth World Champion Joey Dawejko (Philadelphia, Pa.) have already qualified their spots for the event and both will look to stake their claim on the top spot in the nation in Denver.
Local and regional qualifiers are currently taking place across the nation to determine the competitors who will vie for a national championship in the Mile High City.
Two members of the U.S. Olympic boxing team will be returning to the amateur scene for the first time. Two-time Olympian Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) can become the first U.S. boxer in history to compete in three Olympic Games and the 2009 USA Boxing National Championships will mark the first event in his journey to the record books. 2008 Featherweight Olympian Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) also made the rare decision to return to the amateur program, and plans to avenge his controversial loss in Beijing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
While their regional competition won’t take place until late May, two returning champions from Denver are expected to compete in their own backyard. Defending light flyweight champion Louie Byrd (Denver, Colo.) was too young to compete in the 2008 Olympic Trials, but he is one of the early favorites for London and will enjoy the chance to compete at home at the USA Boxing National Championships. Byrd could be joined by reigning featherweight titlist Robert Rodriguez (Greeley, Colo.) in the tournament. Both Byrd and Rodriguez served as training partners for the 2008 Olympic Team.
Cassandra Mendoza (Greeley, Colo.) looks forward to representing her home state in her first senior division action. A two-time Junior Olympic national champion, Mendoza found a home away from home in the Rodarte Boxing Club. While few who run into her outside the gym would brand her as a boxer, Mendoza consistently stuns her teammates and coaches with her skill and power.
Hasim Rahman, Jr. (Las Vegas, Nev.), the 17-year-old son of former heavyweight champion of the world, Hasim Rahman, Sr., will compete in his first USA Boxing National Championships only two years after first tying on the gloves. Despite having less than 20 bouts of experience, Rahman has already earned his spot in the event and looks to make noise at the heavyweight division. Although he has been around the sport since childhood, Rahman, Jr., only took up the sport after seeing his father lose his professional heavyweight title in 2006.
Fellow Las Vegas native Michael Hunter followed his father into the sport as well. Michael Hunter, Sr., a professional heavyweight served as a sparring partner for greats such as Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, and Lennox Lewis. The young Hunter began boxing following the death of his father in 2006, and made a quick ascent to the top of the sport, even earning a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Yet, due to the more stringent international qualifying procedures at the super heavyweight division, he fell one win short in all three qualifying events and was unable to compete in Beijing. The 20-year-old Hunter is back in 2009 and hopes to get a second chance at Olympic glory in London.
Robert Rodiquez Louie Byrd
2009 USA Boxing National Championships Schedule
Sunday, June 7 – Athletes and Coaches Arrive in Denver
Monday, June 8 – Preliminary Round Action in the Men’s Women’s and Junior Olympic Divisions (Two Sessions)
Tuesday, June 9 - Preliminary Round Action in the Men’s Women’s and Junior Olympic Divisions (Two Sessions)
Wednesday, June 10 – Men’s Quarterfinal Competition, Women’s and Junior Olympic Semifinal Action (Two Sessions)
Thursday, June 11 – Junior Olympic Finals and Men’s Semifinals (Two Sessions)
Friday, June 12 – Women’s Finals
Saturday, June 13 – Men’s Finals
(All competition will take place at the Denver Coliseum)