Underrated superstar….. Andre Ward
The last male American boxer to capture an Olympic gold medal, Andre Ward, will be honored tomorrow night, when he is inducted into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame.
The 34-year-old Ward will be inducted into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame in Salt Lake City, along with Class of 2018 members Roy Jones, Jr. and Claressa Shields, as well as the late Emanuel Stewart and Tom Cleary.
The second annual USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame reception, held in conjunction with the 2018 USA Boxing Elite and Youth National Championships and Junior and Prep Open, December 2-8, will be held at the Radisson Hotel (215 S. Temple St.) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Not only is he the last American male boxer to garner Olympic gold, which he did in 2004 in Athens, Greece, Ward is the last to do so for Team USA.
“It (last American male boxer to win Olympic gold) has never crossed my mind and it's bittersweet,” Ward remarked.“On one hand, it’s kind of cool to be the last to do something for so long but, on the other hand, I'm eager for that streak to be broken. It's time that the United states of America take its rightful place at the top of amateur boxing, like it once was, and in 2020 I predict Gold...lots of it!”
“It's an honor and a privilege to be inducted in to the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall Fame,” Ward said. “It's even sweeter to be inducted with this year's other inductees and the icing on the cake is going in to the hall of fame with Roy Jones, Jr., my all- time favorite fighter.
“Being ranked No. 1 in the country since I was 17-years-old afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, train alongside the other top United States boxers, and the chance to face international competition leading up to the Olympics played a big part in my Olympic success.”
Ward, who lives in Oakland (CA), started boxing in 1994 at the age of nine.He finished his brilliant amateur career with an amazing 115-5 record, highlighted by his gold medal performance at the 2004 Olympics.He also was a two-time U.S. National Championships (2001 & 2003) winner, in addition to a 2002 Under-19 National champion.
"As the youngest USA Boxing alum to win a men's Olympic gold medal, Andre has inspired present and future generations of champions,” said Chris Cugliari, USA Boxing Alumni Association Executive Director.“He is a champion in every sense of the term -- for his intelligence, skill, and work ethic demonstrated throughout his career as well as his professionalism and character outside of the ring. The USA Boxing Alumni Association is thankful for Andre's contributions to amateur boxing and look forward to honoring him as part of this year's Hall of Fame class."
Ward’s star kept rising in the pro ranks, in which he retired undefeated with a 32-0 (16 KOs) record, including unified world titles as a super middleweight (WBA, WBC, The Ring and lineal) and light heavyweight (WBA, IBF & WBO).
In 2011, after winning the hyped Super Six World Boxing, Ward was rightfully selected as the consensus Fighter of the Year. In seven fights against past world champions, he was 7-0 with two knockouts, defeating contemporary bests such as Mikhail Kessler, Sakio Bika, Chad Dawson, Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch and Sergey Kovalev twice.
At the top of sport, Ward decided to retire from the ring last year, after his second victory over Kovalev.Today, he provides expert commentating, hosted the recent boxing reality show The Contender (Season 8), and he also played a role in the movies, Creed and Creed II.
Despite a near perfect career that places him along boxing’s all-time greats and his last loss in the ring occurring in 1998, Ward was often been an underappreciated and under-acknowledged athlete by fans and media alike.
“My last loss was in the finals of the 1998 Silver Gloves against John Revish, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Ward noted. “I remember it like it was yesterday. I still feel the sting of defeat. That feeling was something I've never forgotten and something I never wanted to feel again. There was really no pressure to keep the streak going because I wasn't aware of it until someone brought it up. For me, it was my drive to win, mixed with a small fear of losing, and those seemed to be the perfect ingredients for me.”
Like all USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Famers, Andre Ward gives back to youths on a regular basis, in and out of the ring.“I'm still involved with amateur boxing,” Ward concluded. “I held my first amateur show over the summer and plan to hold many more and eventually a national tournament in the future. I'm always available to any fighter who wants my advice, especially the younger generation that's on the way up.”