Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on July 24, 1996 · Page 201
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · Page 201

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Wednesday, July 24, 1996
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Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, July 24, 1996 Section 4 THE ATLANTA OLYMPICS Diaz's other dream set to come true By Philip Hersh Olympic Bureau ATLANTA Anselmo Diaz knew hdw much his son, David, loved boxing. That is why the elder Diaz used the sport as a way to get his son from straying outside the ring. This was during Diaz's presumed senior year of high school, when the teenager was spending more time hanging around with friends than he was at Chicago's Steinmetz High School. One day, he found himself expelled for truancy. "My dad took boxing away from me fot a while," said Diaz, 20. "He told me if I didn't get my act together that I couldn't work out" Diaz got the message. The next year he enrolled at Schurz, from which he graduated in 1995. That fulfilled his parents' dream of having him become the first in his family to finish high school in the United States. At the same time, Diaz committed to fulfilling his own dream, the one he had told coach Danny Nieves about after winning the 1992 Junior Olympic title. "I said I wanted to make the 1996 Olympics," Diaz recalled. "He said, 'All we have to do is work real hard and sacrifice, and you will get there. " .Wednesday night, light-middleweight (139 pounds) Diaz will face Jacobo Garcia of the Virgin Islands in his first bgjjt of the Olympic boxing tournament. The sacrifices he and Nieves made helped Diaz win the U.S. Olympic trials and the ensuing boxoff between the trials champion and. the runner-up. He was the only unranked fighter in the 12 weight classifications at, .the boxoff. "Everybody said he didn't have a chance, and I think that gave him greater motivatioa". said Olympic boxing coach Al Mitchell "He can win a medal." 'That would be a nice get-well present for his mother, Basilisa, who is scheduled to leave the hospital next week after kidney surgery. She has been sick since the boxoffs in April, and that affected Diaz's training, said Nieves. Diaz and Nieves had overcome training obstacles in the last year. Nieves, a director at the Hamlin Park Recreation Center, also was working a second job delivering blood. Because Nieves worked odd shifts as a deliveryman, it 1 IUSA.J Olympic Bureau photo by Gary Bogdon Chicago native David Diaz will realize his dream of competing in the Olympics when he steps into the ring Wednesday. meant Diaz often would do night workouts in the coach's home, where he would hit a pad in the kitchen. That may account for what Mitchell called Diaz's "unorthodox style. He loves to throw the right hook, gamble with it. We've been telling him to throw the straight left, which the scoring people like, and then the hook. He has really been listening." Diaz has been in Olympic team training camps since April. He nearly decided to finish his pre-Olympic training in Chicago after a bizarre incident two weeks ago at the camp in Augusta, Ga. While jogging on a high school track with teammate Antonio Tarver, the world champion in the light-heavyweight class, Diaz noticed a stranger watching them from his bicycle. The next thing he knew, the man ran the bike into Diaz from behind. "I fell on top of the bike, and I kept waiting for him to say something like he was sorry," Diaz said. "But he got up and ran. "I wasn't hurt just freaked out and a little frightened. For a couple hours, I was thinking about going home. But that guy wasn't going to take my David Diaz at a glance Name: David Diaz. Hometown: Chicago. Age: 20. Sport Boxing. . , Accomplishments: Beat Zabdiel Judah in finals of champion's bracket of his weight class for first place in the Olympic trials. Prospects: Considered a long-shot for a medal. Personal: Started boxing in 1 994. Olympic dream away from me." Diaz isn't sure where his boxing career will go after the Olympics. He plans to take courses at Wright Junior College to be a paramedic. "A pro career probably is possible, but school is my plus," Diaz said. "I'm not afraid to go pro, but it has to be for really good money." An Olympic medal, unlikely as that seems, would lead to decent paydays. The favorite in his weight class is world champion Hector Venet of Cuba, who beat Diaz 16-10 in a Cuba-U.S. meet last December. Whatever he does in the Olympics, it won't mean as much to his family as the high school diploma. There was a big party at the Diaz home in Humboldt Park, where one sister lives in the basement, another on the second floor and his parents among their children and five of their grandchildren. "My dad told me, T knew you were going to graduate,' " Diaz said. Anselmo Diaz had left Mexico in 1965 to find work in Chicago. He would return to bring money to his wife, who stayed behind with their growing family. Basilisa Diaz moved in 1975, in time to have David become the only one of her nine children born in the United States. An older brother, Jose, was boxing at Welles Park when 9-year-old David began to tag along. Soon his father would take him to the gym. "I liked the competition and the toughness," Diaz said. "Then I started going on a lot of trips, and I liked traveling to nice places." No trip may ever seem nicer than the one he took to Atlanta in July 1996. More than coaching flap needed to derail Tarver MOWFlIMLlr-. By George Diaz Olympic Bureau ATLANTA When Antonio Tarver steps into the ring Wednesday for the first time in Olympic competition, the man who -helped shape his proficiency as. a boxer won't be in his corner. ,rUnder a mandate from the U.S. Olympic Committee, personal coaches won't be allowed in the two-person mix of coaches and trainers working each fight. Lou Harris, Tarver's coach at, Orlando's Frontline Outreach Center, will be among the spectators at Alexander Memorial Coliseum when Tarver meets Russia's Dmitri Vybornov. Another 11 Olympians are competing under the same restrictions. in "I think it's one of the worst things that's ever happened," Harris said. "It's crazy as hell. Olympic coaches are water boys. They don't know my guys." 'Previous Olympic boxing competitions, particularly the 1992 Games in Barcelona, have been marked by controversy. Given credentials by the USOC, personal coaches often interfered and gave their fighters advice contrary to instructions of Olympic coaches during bouts. The USOC since has eliminated credentialed access to personal coaches. "'.'You know and I know each of their cpaches is a grass-roots coach," U.S. Olympic boxing coach Al Mitchell said. '"They belong there because they brought these athletes up, but I also know that these coaches understand Antonio Tarver at a glance Name: Antonio Tarver. Hometown: Orlando. Age: 27. Sport Boxing. Accomplishments: Is the No. 1 -ranked boxer in the world in the light-heavyweight ( 1 78-pound) class. First American boxer ever to win U.S., Pan American and world championship titles in the same year. Prospects: Gold-medal favorite. Personal: Started boxing in 1979 but gave it up to play basketball, football and track. Came back to boxing in 1988 after watching former opponent Roy Jones on television at the Seoul Games. , jj-j 'C 1 I llll-ll II 're in. Too many hands Olympic Bureau photo by Gary Bogdon Antonio Tarver will enter competition Wednesday as the gold-medal favorite. the position we're in. Too me in the soup, it's a lousy soup.' Despite the circumstances, Tarver remains a solid gold-medal favorite in the light-heavyweight division, although he'll face a strong challenge from Vybornov, the bronze medalist in the European championships. At 27, Tarver is one of the most experienced U.S. fighters on the international level His 13-3 record in international bouts includes a world championship and a Pan American Games gold medal in 1995. A left-hander, Tarver is strong with both hands and is very adept at using the computerized scoring system to his advantage. Tarver attributes much of that suc cess to Harris, the man who convinced him not to turn professional after failing to qualify for the 1992 Olympics. Assuming he was too old to make another Olympic run, Tarver was set to turn pro until Harris convinced him he would become a "$100-a-night club fighter," without an Olympic background. "When you look at the experience that the international coaches and the Olympic coaches have, then you have to weigh the odds," Tarver said. "My coach probably isn't as familiar with the international style of boxing or the opponents I'm facing as Al Mitchell or assistant Pat Burns.' "I know I would like to have both. I would feel comfortable with that because if I ever got into a tight spot, my personal coach would know how to handle that situation more so than a guy who only had a few months to get to know me." Harris will be among a small group of supporters in the stands Wednesday. They will include Tarver's mother Gwendolyn, Tarver's son Antonio Jr. and Tarver's sister Katina. "Right now I'm just trying to stay on an even level and not get overwhelmed with everyone else's expectations,' Tarver said. "Yes, I have been getting a lot of the attention because of my 1995 year, but that is behind me and if you ask me if I am dwelling on that, I would say no. There is no world champion in 1996. This is a new ballgame." ft Cubans making themselves at home in U.S. boxers' 'house' By George Diaz Olympic Bureau n. ATLANTA Playing off their home-field edge, boxers from the U.S. Olympic team have insisted no one was going to come to their house and do as ' t.' they pleased. . f P The macho-man phi- JJj losophy was buried Jf Tuesday in a flurry of RnYINP crisp jabs and hooks DUAinu delivered by Cuba's Maikro Reyes. His dominating 24-12 victory against Eric Morel in the flyweight division marked the first time in. seven fights that a boxer from the United States had lost in preliminary competition. Discarding the Atlanta advantage, Reyes not only trashed the house, but beat up the kids, took the car for a joyride and tossed the cats in the swimming pooL Notorious for his slow starts, Morel never recovered from a 9-1 deficit in the first round. Although he was much more active in the final six minutes, Morel couldn't chase down Reyes, who maintained his edge by keeping his distance and countering off Morel's punch combinations. "I started slow and it cost me a gold medal," said MoreL a 19-year-old from Madison, Wis. U.S. coach Al Mitchell said Morel's loss "probably helped the other guys. It's no joke. One loss and you're out. He cried after it. I cried with him. That's what the Olympics are all about "He tried. He didn't go out like a guy in a pink outfit. He went out like a Philly guy." Several hours later, a Philly guy got the U.S. back on course. Philadelphia's David Reid looked sharp from the outset in defeating South Korea's Wan-Kyun Lee. Reid's 20-4 light-middleweight victory was marked by a strange incident in the closing minute when, in frustration, Lee lifted his right leg and kneed Reid in the stomach. Already hopelessly behind, Lee lost a point for his actions. "I wanted to go in there and lift everybody up, lift the whole team," Reid said. "I wanted to show everyone that the U.S. team is still the best" Perhaps. Although the U.S delegation is somewhat impatient about persistent questions regarding the Cubans, the focal point remains the U.S.-Cuba tussle for 12 individual golds. Despite two recent defections, seven Cuban boxers are undefeated, reflecting high expectations for a team that won seven golds and two silvers in the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Trying to avoid questions about the political implications of the defections, the Cuban delegation has put a guarded spin on the boxing competition. Cuban boxers and coaches have refused to grant interviews to foreign journalists. They agreed to be interviewed only if they could hand-pick their translator, John Hornewer, a mixed-zone marshal with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games who has forged strong ties with the Cubans in recent years. ACOG officials declined the request because Hornewer is not assigned as a translator. "They want whatever they say to be accurate," Hornewer said, adding that the Cubans are suspicious of competing in what they call "a hostile environment" Tell that to Eric MoreL BEACH VOLLEYBALL Olympics roundup Compiled By Jack Thompson Beach volleyball arrives, for sure There is no ocean in Jonesboro, Ga., and, until recently, no beach. But beach volleyball came of age Tuesday in its Olympic debut i "This is incredible. I was out there in the old1 days, playing for T-shirts and din,-, ners," 36-year-old Linda Hanley. said after helping the U.S. women post a 3-0 record on the opening day of the double-elimination event. The American men's teams had byes Tuesday. With a packed stadium-court crowd of about 9,000 already making plenty of noise, the second-seeded American team of Holly McPeak and Nancy Reno sent the decibel level higher by scoring the first five points of their match against, France's Brigitte Lesage and Annabelle Prawer-man on the way to a 15-4 victory. ," Winning by an identical score were Americans! Gail Castro and Deb Richardson, who played Debora Schoon-Kadjik and Lisette Van de Ven.of the Netherlands. 'X The third U.S. duo, fourth-seeded Hanley and Barbara Fontana Harris, used some overpowering serves to pull away to a 15-8 victory over Norf way's Merita Bernsten and Ragni Hestad. 1 The top-seeded women, Brazil's Sandra Pires and Jackie Silva, were 15-2 winners over Indonesia's Eta Berta Kaize and Timy YudhanL ' . v. Seles, Agassi win openers The top seeds, a pair of tournament-tested Americans making their Olympic debuts, also had no trouble on the first day of tennis. In Stone Mountain, Ga., Monica Seles got off to D, a fast start, beating China's Li C Chen 6-0, 6-4. On the men's side; i A I Andre Agassi edged Swede Jonas Xi Bjorkman 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5). s .r, TTMMIC Seles, who was born in Yugor Itnnlo slavia and became a U.S. citizen in 1994, wore a blue-and-white outfit with a red ribbon in her ponytaiL The crowd of about 8,000 gave her a standing ovation after the match. Agassi considers Stone Mountain a pinnacle 111 his career. His father, Mike, competed in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer for Iran. "Being here is a great moment in my lilq,". Agassi said. "It is a great honor." , Defending gold medalist Marc Rosset of Switzerland swept Moroccan Hicham Arazi 6-2, 6-3. Third-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain took the final three games to beat Belgian Dominique Van Roost 6-1, 7-5. Pain masked, gold won I After having blood cleaned out of his right eye. after a freak accident with his nrask,A.ngelo Maz-zoni used a quick stab to give Italy the goiol medal in team epee with a 45-43 victory over Russia. -Mazzoni was able to fend o(. a furious comeback by Russia's Aleksandr Beketov, the individ- FFNfMNP ual gold Realist That included rtnlinu hard contact between the two fencers just before the final touch. , , ; : ; Beketov had pulled Russia within 44-43 when, he was able to score during a head-to-head duel He attacked aggressively again, and when the two fencers became tied up, Mazzoni's mask twisted, causing cuts on his brow and below his eye. After a lengthy delay, Mazzoni needed just three seconds to clinch the gold medal for Italy, which was taken to the wire in its first bout of the day before eliminating the United States 45-44. , u ... U.S. fencers Tamir Bloom, James Carpenter and, Michael Marx all won first-round bouts in individual epee Saturday before losing in the second round. They pulled the same feat in team competi-, tion, with a first-round victory over Korea. -1 Cubans take 3rd straight Cuba became the first baseball team to go 3-0, defeating the Netherlands 18-2 behind Omar Luis' three-hitter. The game went only 6V innings because of the international "mercy" rule. The U.S. (2-0), which plays Italy, on Wednesday, is the only other unbeaten team in the tournament-Orestes Kindelan hit his fourth homer for Cuba, which has scored 45 runs in its three games, though the gold-medal favorites had to go extra innings to beat Japan on Sunday. 4 BASEBALL Missed jump costs U.S. tor EQUESTRIAN The U.S. fell into second place in cross-country, endurance on the second day of the equestrian, three-day event ( The Americans may have lost their shot at the gold medal when Jill Henneberg crashed into the bridge between two ponds at Fence 13 on Nirvana II and retired from the, course. ; The United States has 244.6 penalty points to 183.6 for Australia, leaving little chance for the gold. American David O'Connor was in second place in dressage. O'Connor scored 37.6 penalty points on Custom Made to trail only British rider Mary King, who scored 31.6 on King William. ' I 3 entries holding 2nd Defending Star Class champions Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel were among three groups df Americans to hold second place in their classes after the second day of yachting, k Courtney Becker-Dey of The K Dalles, Ore., was second in the Europe Class and Californians -ff Jeff Madrigali, Jim Barton and L" Kent Massey were second in Sol-VflPHTWP ing after placing ninth Tuesday. iHUllliUi Reynolds, of San Diego, and Haenel, of Los Angeles, finished fifth in their race to fall one point behind the Brazilian team. of Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira.

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