Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on July 24, 1992 · 191
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 191

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Friday, July 24, 1992
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IOC backs pros; some federations issue cons Associated Press "1 f you can see Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing in the Olympic Games, why can't J you see Evander Holyfield and Mark McGwire? The reason is the rules not of the International Olympic Committee, but of the individual federations governing the sports of the Games. QWiJQllB CASTLE KEEPERS REALTY 729 S. Dearborn Chicago, IL 60605 312-922-2865 Located in Hot Printer's Row Luxury Condos, Unique Lofts, Creative Townnomes. Walking Tours from Office Daily CENTURY 21 KRUGER & ASSOCIATES 724 S. Dearborn Chicago, IL 60605 312-663-1991 We specialize in residential properties; condos, townnomes, single family & loftsl Open 7 Days Call Usl LEEOVIC REALTY GROU? 7337 N.Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60646 708-676-1100 Residential-Commercial 3 Offices to Serve You. City & Suburbs OGDEN PARTNERS Dearborn Park II Townhouses from $174,900 14th (State Street 312-431-0777 CHURCHILL DAYTON REALTY, LTD. ...a new name to remember in fine ?roperties 959 N. 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Dempster Morton Grove 708-966-4500 , LL Reuters photo Mirror image: Danell Nicholson of Chicago jng the U.S. Olympic boxing team's first training watches his reflection in a gymnasium mirror dur- session in Barcelona last weekend. Field tough; so are XJ.S. boxers 2 South Siders among those who hope for upsets By Bill Jauss r t first glance, Chi- j A cago's Danell and U: Montell Show would LiiA appear to have little chance to bring home any medals from the 1992 Olympic boxing tournament. After all, neither Danell Nicholson nor Montell Griffin, South Side residents and U.S. boxers at 178 and 201 pounds, respectively, is ranked among the top 10 amateur fighters in the world at his weight classification. Yet the field for this Olympics is packed with world-ranked boxers. The Olympic field at 178 is headed by Torstern May of Germany ranked No. 1 in the world. The Olympic favorite at 201 is Felix Savon of Cuba, also ranked first and regarded as perhaps the strongest fighter pound for pound in the Olympic Games. And yet, first glances are not always accurate. For one thing, the world rankings were made Jan. 1. Both Chicago boxers have improved tremendously since then. Nicholson, 24 and a former basketball star at Dunbar High Wrestlers in By Mike Conklin he way two-time Olympic wrestler Bruce Baumgartner sees it, the United States has assembled the strongest freestyle squad in history. "I know this is the first team I've been on where I feel all 10 wrestlers are capable of winning a medal," said the heavyweight. The U.S. team, decided at challenge matches in early June in Pittsburgh, has true leaders in three former Olympic gold-medal winners: John Smith at 136.S pounds, Kenny Monday at 163 pounds and Baumgartner. Smith never has lost a match in the Summer Games or the world championships and this year became the first U.S. wrestler in history to be voted the international federation's No. 1 competitor after years of domination by Eastern Europeans. At 31, Baumgartner can become the first wrestler from this country to win a third Olympic medal in freestyle. He won gold in '84 and silver in '88. The rest of coach Bobby Douglas' team has experience, speed and a sprinkling of youth. If one more thing will push the U.S. closer to the medal ceremonies, it is this: Most of the wrestlers are competing for their livelihoods. Seven U.S. team members are coaches in college programs, and these days, the sport is an endangered species on campuses. That's because the NCAA, in a push for more equity among genders, is expected to adopt legislation in the next year that many administrators predict will lead to trims in men s intercollegiate sports. Combined with the fact the number of mat programs already has shrunk over the last decade, it is a bleak picture. "There's no question that a strong showing by our team will help further the sport's cause," said Douglas, who coached NCAA champions at Arizona Chicago Tribune, Friday, July 24, 7 v School, has a victory this year over Germany's Bert Teuchert, the No. 4-ranked amateur in the world at his weight class. Griffin, 22 and a former Simeon High School athlete, defeated two amateurs with world rankings: No. 2 Andrei Kurniavka of the Commonwealth of Independent States and No. 10 Rick Tamperi of Australia. Another factor that should work in the Chicagoans' favor, especially Griffin's, is that Olympic bouts will be scored electronically for the first time. This allows fans and boxers to keep track of who is winning between rounds. A point is awarded to a fighter when he strikes a blow. that is acknowledged by three of the five ringside judges. They must push a corresponding button within a second. Griffin, whose late father Clarence ran the Windy City Gym on the South Side, excels at the stick-and-move style that runs up points in the new scoring system. As for Nicholson, he might rival Savon for sheer strength among 201 -pounders. Nicholson also boxed as a super- it for medals and more f W i Baumgartner Douglas State before recently taking over at Iowa State. "These days we need everything we can." No one knows the situation better than Baumgartner, head coach at Edinboro (Pa.) University. His alma mater, Indiana State, no longer has a wrestling program. His coach at the Indiana school, Fran McCann, subsequently had the rug pulled earlier this year at Notre Dame in a decision that drew national attention. "I talked to Coach McCann after it happened and he was down," said Baumgartner. "I know he'll probably stay at Notre Dame for now at some other job, but I think he'd like to coach somewhere else if he could find a program. There aren't that many good situations out there. "The thing that really hurts wrestling is that we don't have a counter for women like you find in basketball or swimming. I think the sport will always maintain a certain level of popularity. It can be a revenue producer if it's done the right way." Smith and Monday coach at Oklahoma State, a program that's had significant problems due to an NCAA investigation. The other coaches on the team are: Kevin Jackson (180.S), an assistant, at Iowa State; Zcke Jones (114.5), an assistant at Bloomsburg State, and Mark Coleman (220), an Ohio State assistant. Kendall Cross (125.5) is a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State. Completing the team are Tim Vanni (105.5) of Phoenix, Town- 1992 Section 9 11 Olympic J f T A V j A heavyweight and trained down to 201. U.S. coach Joe Byrd is optimistic about his fighters' chances. "I think we're going to come back with four or five gold medals," he said. Only one U.S. boxer 106-pound Eric Griffin won a gold medal at the world championships last year, though six won gold at the World Championships Challenge this year. Griffin, a four-time world champion, is favored to win a gold medal for the first time after missing the team in 1988 because he failed a drug test. Other U.S. boxers with the best shots at the gold are Oscar de la Hoya (132), Vernon Forrest (139), Raul Marquez (156) and Larry Donald (super-heavyweight). The field includes about 30 fighters at each of eight weight classes. Bouts are scheduled for three three-minute rounds. There is no seeding in the open draw, which will be made Saturday. This means No. 1 could fight No. 2 in the first round of the single-elimination tournament. Tribune wire services contributed to this report. send Saunders (149.5) of Phoenix and Chris Campbell (198) of Fayetteville, N.Y. Campbell, , a 37-year-old attorney and an articulate competitor sure to draw media attention ris a former part-time assistant who would like to get back into coaching. The final medal count should be a two-team race. The biggest challenge to the U.S. should come from the Unified Team, which has five reigning world champions. The only other nation that should be able to compete on a team basis will be Iran. Bulgaria, Turkey and North Korea have individual stars capable of getting in the way of top contenders. While the future of college wrestling is problematic, the U.S. future at the international level never looked better. The '92 Games will see Unified Team members representing the dominant Soviet Union program for the last time. In '96 in Atlanta, many of these same wrestlers will be spread among the republics. In the U.S., USA Wrestling in Colorado Springs governs the amateur side of the sport and is headed by new executive director Jim Scherr, a member of the '88 Olympic team, and president Terry McCann, a Chicagoan who won a gold in '60. Through improved marketing and fundraising, they've helped guide the organization to the point that wrestlers finally get ample support and competitive outlets to continue at advanced ages. "That's always been a problem," said Douglas. "In the past, our international teams always were young and inexperienced because there was nowhere to go after college. Now that we've got the organization functioning at this higher level, it's just important to make sure the foundation stays strong. The best way, right now, is to be as successful as we can in the Olympics."

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