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It is every young boxing amateur’s dream to get the call from their country and be asked to take part in the boxing Olympics. The number of world class fighters that first get noticed at the games is phenomenal – just from the 2004 Olympics we have seen the emergence of great fighters such as Yuriorkis Gamboa, Andre Ward, Odlanier Solis, Alexander Povetkin, Amir Khan and Andre Dirrell.

As we have seen with Amir Khan in particular, winning a medal at the Olympics gets a fighter immediate media attention, and with that comes a sudden expectation that a) you will turn pro and b) you have the talent to win a world title. Does it always work out that way? Certainly not. Let’s have a look at the latest batch of Olympic gold medal winners and see who has gone on to have success in the professional boxing world and who has faded away.

Those Who Made It

First off, here is a sad fact for you; of the eleven boxing gold medal winners in 2008, only three of them have turned pro. Compared with the 2004 winners, that is a disappointing number. The rest of the eleven have either retired from boxing altogether, or elected to stay amateur in order to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The reason so few turned pro is a mystery really. You would think a gold medal would earn you the right to a professional contract, but these aren’t always forthcoming. Maybe some men just don’t have the desire or maybe for some, when they take off their protective headgear they uncover a chin made of brittle glass. They can take a look into sports management to help turn their love for boxing into a lucrative career by mastering the skills needed to be successful. Here are the guys who turned pro:

Manuel Felix Diaz
Diaz’s gold medal in the light welterweight division was a cause for celebration in the Dominican Republic, because it was their first boxing medal since 1984 and only the second gold medal in their history. Showing skill and aggression, the southpaw beat everyone who was put before him, culminating in a victory over reigning champion Manus Boonjumnong of Thailand.

The 5’5” fighter turned pro a year after the Olympics, opting to fight in the welterweight division. A popular fighter and a crowd pleaser, he is regarded as a real welterweight prospect, but at present stands a mile away from the best of his division - guys like Manny Pacquiao and Victor Ortiz. What he needs more than anything is experience, with his biggest test so far coming from Columbian Edinson Garcia, a thirty-two year old who has lost twelve of his thirty fights. It is time for Diaz to move up a level.

He has a fight scheduled for September 16th at the Texas Station Casino, Las Vegas, but the opponent has not yet been named. Let’s hope it is someone who will test him.

James DeGale
Of the gold medal winners, twenty-five year old DeGale is the most successful. That isn’t saying much though – the British super middleweight has a loss on his record (10-1  8KOs) and recently lost his BBBofC Super Middleweight title to fellow British prospect George Groves (13-0  10KOs).  There is more to come from him though.

‘Chunky’ DeGale does have the WBA International super middleweight title to his name and on October 15th he is going to fight Piotr Wilczewski for the European belt. If he wins this, and follows it by beating a few higher-class fighters, he could one day challenge for a world title.

Rakhim Chakhiev
‘The Machine’ Rakhim Chakhiev won a gold for Russia in the heavyweight event, though professionally he fights at cruiserweight. Standing at 6’ he isn’t the tallest of fighters but he does pack power into his punch. Of his ten undefeated fights so far eight ended by knockout, meaning the twenty-eight year old Russian has only boxed in thirty professional boxing rounds.

At present, Chakhiyev is very inexperienced. His most difficult fight has come in the form of ‘Candy Man’ Harvey Jolly, an American journeyman with more losses to his name than wins. At his age, most fighters are approaching their peak and starting to get an idea of what their ceiling of success will be. Not Chakhiev.

The gold medal winner still has the record of a rookie and he will need to make progress soon or concede that a world title will never be his. It seems that his team may have realized this, because Chakhiev’s next fight is against thirty-seven year old Michael Simms, an American heavyweight who has an average record (21-14-2  13KOs) but once fought (and lost) for the IBU Cruiserweight title. Chakhiev should beat Simms and from this victory tougher opponents will be available to him.

And The Rest of the Medalists

The gold medalists are a washout professionally, and the silvers fare even worse. Of the elven winners, none have turned professional. So instead, we are going to have to take a look at the bronze medalists. There is good news here – we have some real prospects to look at from this category.

Yordenis Ugas is a twenty-five year old Cuban who defected to the USA in 2010 to start his professional career. He is a very talented welterweight but has a suspect chin, a weakness that has stopped him moving up against better fighters. With a record of nine wins and zero losses he is steadily making progress but, like everyone else we have looked at so far, he needs to think about taking harder fights.

Deontay Wilder is a name well known to most boxing fans in the USA because the nation’s future heavyweight hopes have been forced onto the 6’7” fighter’s shoulders. He has an impressive record (18-0  18KOs) but a belief is starting to grow that it is heavily padded. Read more on Deontay Wilder's record.

Finally we have David Price, the talented twenty-eight year old British heavyweight who has beaten eleven opponents and lost to none. Although the boxers he has faced have been weak, Price has shown he has a lot of skill. He is definitely a fighter to watch, but until he wins a belt not many will bother. More on David Price here.

It must be clear at this point that the 2008 crop of Olympic boxing medalists doesn’t compare to that of 2004. Then, we had Gamboa, Khan and Ward. From 2008, we can only offer Diaz, DeGale and Wilder. The men who won medals in Beijing are certainly talented, but there seems to be reluctance among them to take risks or accept a tough fight. Ultimately, this only holds back their success and if they want to compare to the past Olympians they will need to change that soon.