USA Boxing Top Storylines for 2023 Santiago Pan American Games
by Luke Santangelo, USA Boxing
Thirteen boxers will be representing Team USA at the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games, including seven males and six females. Twelve of the 13 boxers will be making their Pan American Games debut, with Naomi Graham (Fayetteville, N.C.), 34, striving to win consecutive Pan American gold medals, a quest that no American boxer has achieved before. Competing in the 75 kg weight division, Graham aims to carve her name in history, and repeat her performance from 2019 these next two weeks in Santiago that would punch her ticket to her second Olympics.
Meanwhile in the small border town of Laredo, Texas, there’s a remarkable story unfolding as Laredo looks to celebrate not just one, but two inaugural Olympic contenders in Emilio Garcia and Jennifer Lozano. These two boxers are on track to represent the United States in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Both boxers have triumphed in 2023, with Garcia securing two international medals, a gold and bronze, with Lozano securing two bronze medals from international tournaments this year. The two started in the sport for different reasons but hope to have similar outcomes. Garcia has boxing in his blood, with his father in his corner and brothers also boxing out of their family gym, while Lozano got into the sport to learn a defense mechanism from bullying.
Team USA made their mark at their last Continental Championships and took home 13 medals including gold medalist Robby “Rahim” Gonzales, 27, who looks to make his Olympic dreams come true by finishing top two in Santiago. The Las Vegas native is hoping to qualify for his first Olympic Games in his third Olympic cycle with USA Boxing. After falling short at the 2016 Olympic Trials, Gonzales won the 2020 Olympic Trials and seemed destined to represent Team USA in Tokyo, however, like many, COVID deterred his plans. With qualification guidelines changing due to cancelled Olympic qualifying events, Gonzales did not have the opportunity to compete in Olympic Qualifiers, ending his Tokyo dreams. Deciding to stay for one more event, he won gold at the 2021 Elite World Championships, encouraging him to take one more shot at accomplishing his Olympic dreams.
Other notable boxers include Omari Jones, 20-year-old-native from Orlando, Fla., who won consecutive golds at the 2023 GeeBee International Tournament and the Czech Republic Grand Prix in the 71 kg weight class. He is also the 2021 Elite World Championship silver medalist; Jahmal Harvey, 20, is a gold medalist at the 2021 Elite World Championships and was the first American male to win an elite world title since 2007. Harvey from Oxon Hill, Md., is a multi-time gold medalist at USA Boxing National Championships at the junior, youth and elite levels.
Team USA also has some young guns looking to secure berths for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Among these young rising stars for Team USA include Alyssa Mendoza (Caldwell, Idaho), 20, and the youngest of the 13 boxers, Yoseline Perez (Houston, Texas), who is just 19. Both boxers have had international success with Mendoza making her presence known by earning medals in all three of her international tournaments this year. As for Perez, she looks to continue her dominance from the youth division that led to gold at the 2022 Youth World Championships and make the transition to the elite stage in Santiago.
Rounding out the team this week include Morelle McCane (Cleveland, Ohio), who looks to become the fifth consecutive boxer, and first female, from Cleveland to punch their ticket to an Olympic Games; Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.), the three-time amateur World Champion and Youth Olympic Champion who made her return to boxing in 2021 after stepping away from the sport for a few years; Roscoe Hill (Spring, Texas), the 2021 World Championship silver medalist and 2022 AMBC Elite Continental Champion; Joshua Edwards (Houston, Texas), Team USA super heavyweight who is looking to join the legacy of Houston boxing; and Jamar Talley (Camden, N.J.), the 2022 AMBC Elite Championships gold medalist who looks to become the first boxer from Camden to box in an Olympic Games since 1928.
Boxing in Santiago begins October 19 and runs through October 27. This year’s Pan American Games will include a sixth female weight class, up one from 2019 and double the number of female weight classes from 2011, the first Pan American Games to include female boxing. Boxers must finish top two, except for the female 57 kg and 60 kg weight classes, as they must finish top four to qualify by name to Paris.
The first Pan American boxing event took place in 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since then, Team USA has established itself as a boxing powerhouse, securing an impressive 117 medals, which leads the global medal race. Among the 119 medals, a notable 35 of them have been awarded gold, 35 silver and 49 bronze.
Click here to follow Team USA throughout their time in Santiago, including athlete stories, live stream and full results.
Click here for the full 2023 Pan American Games USA Boxing Media Guide.
2023 Pan American Games Team Roster
50 kg: Jennifer Lozano, Laredo, Texas
51 kg: Roscoe Hill, Spring, Texas
54 kg: Yoseline Perez, Houston, Texas
57 kg: Alyssa Mendoza, Caldwell, Idaho
57 kg: Jahmal Harvey, Oxon Hill, Md.
60 kg: Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif.
63.5 kg: Emilio Garcia, Laredo, Texas
66 kg: Morelle McCane, Cleveland, Ohio
71 kg: Omari Jones, Orlando, Fla.
75 kg: Naomi Graham, Fayetteville, N.C.
80 kg: Robby Gonzales, Las Vegas, Nev.
92 kg: Jamar Talley, Camden, N.J.
92+ kg: Joshua Edwards, Houston, Texas