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Olympic Spotlight – Boxing

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing Tianjin Plus’ series focusing on China’s hopes at this year’s Summer Olympic Games, boxing comes under the magnifying glass as Paul Ryding examines the Middle Kingdom’s chances of medal success in London.

 

At the Beijing Olympics four years ago, China surprised the boxing world with a series of strong showings and won four medals including two golds, a silver and a bronze. Four years before that, one of those gold medal winners, Zuo Shiming, became the first Chinese to win an Olympic medal in boxing when he scooped the bronze at the tender age of 22.

 

It’s only been 26 years since the national ban on boxing was lifted. The sport was previously banned as it was considered too violent. However,in that short time, Boxing has grown in profile and stature in China, and the country now attends international competitions on an even footing with some of the most established boxing nations in the world.

 

Boxing has quickly become a priority for sports authorities in China, since the ban was lifted two decades ago, because of the sheer number of medal opportunities it affords the Chinese Olympic Committee – thirteen in total.

 

Zou Shiming is the Chinese boxing team captain. A three-time world champion and Olympic champion, the Guizhou-native is the most successful boxer ever to come out of China. A hot favourite for another Olympic title in London, Zou has developed a lightning-fast fighting style which allows him to rack up points using his fearsome jab. And he approaches London in rude form having regained his world championship title last year in Azerbaijan.

 

Four years ago, boxing team coach Zhang Chuanliang believed only captain Zou Shiming was capable of winning a medal for Team China. This time around, China has a host of viable medal prospects.

 

Zou has already qualified as world champion, as has light-heavyweight fighter Meng Fanlong who made the quarters at the world championships, and heavyweight Wang Xuanxuan who won bronze in Baku. They each secured their qualification at the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships held in Baku, Azerbaijan late last year.

 

Each NOC (National Olympic Committee) is allowed to enter one fighter for each weight class in both the men’s and women’s events. Team China will hope to have secured a full quota of 13 qualifiers when the event gets underway in July. The chance to add to its three current qualifiers will come at the upcoming Asian Olympic Qualifying Event held in April in Astana, Kazakhstan.

 

For the first time ever, women’s boxing will be included at the 2012 Olympics with three medals on offer at weights of flyweight, lightweight and middleweight. The female qualifiers will be determined by the outcome of the Women’s World Championships to be held between the 9th and 20th of May in Chongqing.

 

Xie Lili is a current women’s national champion and is just one of the Chinese women hoping to make the Olympics in July. Another is two-time AIBA Women's World Championships silver medallist and Asian Games winner Dong Cheng. Perhaps China’s brightest female medal hopeful is two-time AIBA World Champion and Asian Games winner Ren Cancan. Twenty-four-year-old Ren has never been defeated by any Asian boxer at international level. However, as the Chinese women’s boxing team was only established early in 2010 and any medals for them would be a substantial achievement.

 

The Chinese boxing team’s target at the Beijing Olympics was one gold. They won two. This year, they’ll be looking to double that tally.

 

 

***DID YOU KNOW?***

 

Boxing was banned in China until 1986 as it was considered too violent.

 

 

***DID YOU KNOW?***

 

Team China boxing captain Zou Shiming was originally considered to have an insufficient arm length-to-height ratio for boxing by the Chinese Boxing Association.

 

 

***DID YOU KNOW?***

 

The boxing events at the London Olympics will be held at the ExCeL Arena which will be divided into separate halls to also host the fencing, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling events.

 

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