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The Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too

Wed 21 July 2021 | 18:00

Boxers known to be the bests in the world and Olympic medalists too are without a doubt some of the greatest athletes in history. Stay tuned to get to know a little about each of these legends.

Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, was already a national figure in the United States when he departed Rome in 1960 as the Olympic gold champion in light heavyweight.

In 1976, when Ray Leonard won gold in Montreal, he was featured on the front of a Wheaties box.

Olympic boxing was a massive attraction for network coverage in an earlier, less-stressed media culture.

Some of the most successful pound-for-pound boxers in recent decades began their careers at the Games.

It's worth noting that the boxers on this list are ranked mostly based on their professional performances and that a number of Eastern European and Cuban boxers have had quite successful careers in the pro ranks during the Cold War era in the Olympic Games history as well whom we have mentioned only three of them.

Do You Want to Know about The Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too?

Below, using Bleacherreport as our main source, we have prepared a list of Olympic medalists in boxing.

Lennox Lewis (1988 Gold Medalist)

Lennox Claudius Lewis CM CBE (born September 2, 1965) was a professional boxer from 1989 to 2003.

He's a three-time world heavyweight champion, two-time lineal champion, and the last heavyweight to hold the title unbeaten in Olympic Games history.

At the 1988 Olympics, Lennox Lewis earned a gold medal for Canada, defeating Riddick Bowe in the finals, becoming one of The

Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too

.

It was supposed to be the start of a historic heavyweight battle that would continue into the professional ranks.

Unfortunately, that never happened. Apart from the 1970s, the decade of the 1990s was the best in heavyweight history.

Lewis won the gold medal match against Riddick Bowe after a second-round referee stoppage (RSC). As a professional, Lewis became the first super-heavyweight gold medalist to become world heavyweight champion.

The boxer carried Canada's flag during the Games' closing ceremony. Lewis was the first Canadian to win a gold medal in boxing in 56 years.

Lewis had an amateur record of 85–9 before he turned professional. He had a shorter amateur record of 75 victories (58 by knockout) and 7 losses, according to HBO Boxing.

In October 1986, Valeriy Abadzhyan of the Soviet Union was the only opponent to beat Lewis in amateurs, out of all the losses on the record.

He was promptly solicited by big-time American boxing promoters, including Bob Arum, after earning Olympic gold.

However, their contract offers did not please him, and he considered negotiating a professional deal with a Toronto-based promotion firm.

Evander Holyfield (1984 Bronze Medalist)

Evander Holyfield (born October 19, 1962) is a retired professional boxer from the United States who competed between 1984 and 2011.

He was the uncontested champion at cruiserweight in the late 1980s and heavyweight in the early 1990s, and he is still the only boxer in history to win the undisputed title in both weight divisions during the three-belt period.

Holyfield, dubbed "the Real Deal," is the only four-time world heavyweight champion, having held the unified WBA, WBC, and IBF titles from 1990 to 1992, the WBA and IBF titles again from 1993 to 1994, the WBA and IBF titles for the third time from 1996 to 1999, the IBF title for the third time from 1997 to 1999, and the WBA title for the fourth time from 2000 to 2001.

The professional boxer is truly one of the Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too.

Evander Holyfield, a member of the famed 1984 United States Olympic squad, earned bronze in the light heavyweight category at the Los Angeles Games.

After the Olympics, Holyfield turned pro and won the WBA cruiserweight title from Dwight Muhammad Qawi in only his 12th match.

He competed at the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, as a 20-year-old for the United States, winning a silver medal after losing to Cuban world champion Pablo Romero.

After a controversial disqualification in the second round of the semi-final against New Zealand's Kevin Barry, he was named National Golden Gloves Champion the next year and won a bronze medal at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California.

Laszlo Papp (Three-time Gold Medalist)

Laszlo Papp (25 March 1926 – 16 October 2003) was a Budapest-based Hungarian professional boxer. He won gold medals in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, and the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, as a southpaw.

I think it’s more than fair to say that he was one of the Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too. He became the first boxer in Olympic history to win three gold medals in a row in his final tournament.

He achieved a unique feat in

Olympic boxing

by winning 12 of his 13 fights without losing a round, with the exception of his last Olympic final, which he lost to American boxer Jose Torres.

Despite having hand ailments, Papp turned professional in 1957 and quickly rose through the Middleweight divisions. Professional boxing was not authorized in Hungary at the time because it was a communist country.

For training and fights, The Hungarian had to fly to Vienna, Austria. Despite this disadvantage, he defeated numerous top European Middleweight contenders, including veteran Tiger Jones, French champion Hippolyte Annex, and Chris Christensen, for the European Middleweight title.

The professional defeated Randy Sandy of the United States after Christensen. Hungary's Communist rulers ended Papp's professional career by denying him a departure visa in 1964 after he had already signed up for the world championship title match.

He is one of the few boxers in history to finish his career undefeated. He had a fighting record of 27 victories, two ties, and no defeats. His knockout victories accounted for 15 of his victories.

Felix Savon (Three-time Gold Medalist)

Felix Savon Fabre (born September 22, 1967) is a former amateur boxer from Cuba who competed from 1980 to 2000. He was a three-time Olympic gold winner and six-time World Champion in the heavyweight division, making him one of the best amateur boxers of all time.

When he was widely expected to win gold at the 1988 Summer Olympics, the Cuban government boycotted the games.

Savon is well known for turning down many multimillion-dollar offers to leave Cuba permanently to fight Mike Tyson as a professional boxer. He was one of the Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too.

In 1985, he won his first significant award.  At the age of 19, he defeated Michael Bentt of the United States to win the 1987 Pan Am Games.

He won the Junior World Championships in 1985, as well as the Cuban heavyweight title (which he would win every year until his retirement, with the exception of 1999 and 2000, when he lost to Odlanier Sols, whom he would lose to twice and defeat once in their three encounters).

This kicked off a career that would see him win six World Championships; his victory in 1997 was due to the disqualification of an opponent, future professional world champion Ruslan Chagaev (whom Savon had previously beaten), who beat Savon in the final but was later deprived of the gold medal for having two professional fights prior to the championships.

When these contests were designated exhibitions the following year, Chagaev was reclassified as an amateur, but he did not reclaim the gold medal. He indeed deserves to be on our list of Olympic medalists in boxing.

Teofilo Stevenson (Three-time Gold Medalist)

Teofilo Stevenson Lawrence (March 29, 1952 – June 11, 2012) was a Cuban amateur boxer from 1966 to 1986. He was awarded the Val Barker Trophy in 1972 and the Olympic Order (1987).

Along with fellow Cuban Felix Savon and Hungarian Laszlo Papp, Stevenson is one of only three boxers to win three Olympic gold medals.

If the Cuban government had allowed the Cuban boxing team to compete in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics, which they boycotted, he could have become a five-time Olympic champion. He still became one of the

Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too

.

The professional boxer competed in the 1982 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Munich but was defeated by Francesco Damiani, the ultimate silver medalist and future professional world champion from Italy.

Stevenson's eleven-year unbeaten streak came to an end in this fight, and it was the first time he did not win the gold medal at the World Championships when he joined the competition.

Out of hundreds of Stevenson's rivals, Vysotsky was the only one to ever beat him, let alone knock him out, and to defeat him twice, both in his prime, without being avenged.

On top of that, Vysotsky defeated Stevenson for the first time at the Cordova Cardin, Cuba's home event, where the Cubans strive to never allow a foreigner to reach the finals.

Stevenson's second defeat to Vysotsky came six weeks before his knockout victory run in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, which included triumphs over John Tate and Mircea Simon.

"Nobody is invincible," he declared after losing to Vysotsky for the second match.

Joe Frazier (1964 Gold Medalist)

"Smokin' Joe" Frazier (January 12, 1944 - November 7, 2011) was a professional boxer in the United States who competed from 1965 to 1981.

He was the first boxer to defeat Muhammad Ali and was recognized for his strength, durability, powerful punching, and constant pressure fighting style.

From 1970 until 1973, Frazier was the uncontested heavyweight champion, and as an amateur, he earned a gold medal in the 1964 Summer Olympics, making him one of the Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too.

Frazier's trainer, Yancey "Yank" Durham, helped form Cloverlay, a group of local businessmen (including a young Larry Merchant) who invested in Frazier's professional career and let him train full-time after he won the sole American Olympic gold medal in boxing in 1964.

Until his death in August 1973, Durham served as Frazier's principal trainer and manager.

The great athlete made his professional debut in 1965, defeating Woody Goss in the first round by technical knockout. That year, he won three more fights, all by knockout and none of which went past the third round.

Frazier and Ali fought in the first of their three "Fight of the Century" battles on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden.

Both unbeaten heavyweights fought in a media-frenzied setting reminiscent of Joe Louis's youth, with an international television audience and an in-house audience that included singers and actors, as well as Burt Lancaster (who served as "color commentator" with the fight announcer, Don Dunphy). He was the only one to defeat Ali at the time.

Keep on reading our

list of Olympic medalists in boxing

to know the all-time bests.

George Foreman (1968 Gold Medalist)

George Edward Foreman (born January 10, 1949) is a former professional boxer in the United States, as well as an entrepreneur, minister, and author. He competed as a professional boxer between 1969 and 1997, earning the nickname "Big George."

He is a two-time world heavyweight champion as well as a gold medalist at the Olympics, making him one of the Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too. He is well known as the founder of the George Foreman Grill.

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, Foreman earned a gold medal in the boxing/heavyweight division. In the finals, Foreman overcame Jonas Cepulis of the Soviet Union; the fight was interrupted in the second round by the referee.

Cepulis' face was already bleeding from Foreman's punches in the first round, and he had to accept a standing eight count early in the second.

Big George, who fought out of Lithuania, was a 29-year-old veteran with a 12-year amateur career, over 220 fights to his credit, and was 10 years older than Foreman, making this particular fight one of the most exciting in the

Olympic Games history

.

He strolled around the arena carrying a small American flag and bowing to the crowd after winning the gold medal.

More than any of his world titles, Foreman claimed that winning the Olympic gold medal was the accomplishment of his boxing career that he was most proud of.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (1996 Bronze Medalist)

Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. (born Floyd Joy Sinclair on February 24, 1977) is a promoter and former professional boxer in the United States. He fought from 1996 to 2015, with a one-fight comeback in 2017.

From super featherweight to light middleweight, he won fifteen major world titles, including the Ring magazine title in five weight classes, the lineal championship in four weight classes (twice at welterweight), and retired with an undefeated record.

Mayweather won a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics in the featherweight division, three US Golden Gloves championships (at light flyweight, flyweight, and featherweight), and the US national featherweight championship as an amateur.

He won a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta after reaching the semi-finals of the featherweight (57-kg) category.

The good looking professional had a 10–1 point advantage over Kazakhstan's Bakhtiyar Tileganov in the first fight, which he won when the fight was stopped.

Mayweather defeated Armenian Artur Gevorgyan 16–3 in the second fight.

The American favorite, aged 19, barely overcame 22-year-old Lorenzo Aragon of Cuba in an all-action contest in the quarterfinals, winning 12–11 and becoming the first American boxer to defeat a Cuban in 20 years.

The previous time this happened was at the 1976 Summer Olympics, when the United States Olympic boxing team won five gold medals, featuring Sugar Ray Leonard. He was one of the Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too.

Sugar Ray Leonard (1976 Gold Medalist)

Ray Charles Leonard (born May 17, 1956) is an American former professional boxer, motivational speaker, and sometimes actor best known as "Sugar" Ray Leonard.

From 1977 to 1997, he participated in five weight divisions, winning world titles in all of them, the lineal championship in three weight divisions, and the undisputed welterweight championship.

Leonard was a member of "The Fabulous Four," a group of fighters that battled each other during the 1980s. Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and Marvin Hagler were the members.

In the final, he faced Andres Aldama, a famous Cuban knockout artist who reached the final by knocking out five opponents in a row.

In the opening round, the legend hit many good left hooks. He dropped Aldama with a left to the chin in the second. He wounded Aldama again late in the last round, which brought a standing eight count from the referee.

A Leonard combination prompted another standing eight count with only a few seconds left in the fight. Leonard won the Olympic Gold Medal with a 5–0 decision.

Following that, he said, "I'm finished... I've fought my last fight. My journey has ended, my dream is fulfilled. Now I want to go to school."

The people of Glenarden, Maryland, presented him with a scholarship to the University of Maryland. He intended to pursue a degree in business administration as well as a degree in communications.

The fantastic boxer had a 165–5 record and 75 knockouts at the end of his amateur career, he was certainly one of the Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too.

Muhammad Ali (1960 Gold Medalist)

Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet, and philanthropist who lived from January 17, 1942 until June 3, 2016.

He is widely considered as one of the most prominent and renowned sporting figures of the twentieth century, and is regularly listed as the best heavyweight boxer and greatest athlete of the century. He is known as "The Greatest."

Ali grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was born and raised. At the age of 12, he began training as an amateur boxer.

He won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in the light heavyweight division at the age of 18 and turned professional later that year. After 1961, he converted to Islam.

On February 25, 1964, at the age of 22, he defeated Sonny Liston in a major surprise to win the world heavyweight championship.

The all-time legend announced on March 6, 1964, that he would no longer be recognized as Cassius Clay and would instead be known as Muhammad Ali.

Ali refused to be recruited into the military in 1966, citing his religious convictions and moral objection to the Vietnam War as reasons.

Clay had a 100-win, five-loss amateur record. Ali claimed in his 1975 autobiography that he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River shortly after returning from the Rome Olympics after he and a buddy were refused service at a "whites-only" restaurant and fought with a white gang.

Despite all the rumors about him, everyone around the globe knows him as one of the

Best Boxers Who Were Olympic Medalists Too

.

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