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Team USA amateur boxers trying to adjust to life without boxing

Some fighters are having a tough time, but everyone is just trying to stay motivated.


Amateur boxing is, like the pro game, shut down across the world, with the Tokyo Olympics shelved. Team USA boxers are having to adjust to the pandemic just like everyone else, and they’re all coming at it in their own way.

Oshae Jones, a 22-year-old welterweight from Toledo, admits she’s having a tough time without the prospect of the Olympics on the horizon this year. She would have been a favorite in her division.

“I have not adapted to life without boxing, because boxing will never leave my life,” she said. “My family and coaches have a gym connected to our house we live in. Boxing is not a sport, it’s a lifestyle.

“My heart dropped when I first heard that the Olympics were postponed. Everything that I have been working toward for basically my whole life is on pause until next July. I do not know how I feel or how to express how I feel. The only thing I can do is try to stay motivated.”

26-year-old middleweight Joseph Hicks, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is trying to look on the bright side, and looking to make more improvements.

“I personally feel that this has been a blessing in disguise, because I have more time to improve on the things the USA coaches have been telling me to work on,” he said.

“I live in an apartment in Lansing, but I’ve been staying with my mom in Grand Rapids so I can comfortably train. It’s weird in a way, but I miss getting punched at. I’ve been trying to adapt to the new normal, but I can’t wait to be back at the training center (in Colorado Springs).”

Youth members of the team are also having to adjust, like 17-year-old Staten Island light heavyweight Arjan Iseni.

“It’s very hard to know that I won’t be able to represent Team USA this year in any international tournaments,” Iseni said. “This is my last year as a youth boxer, but I have been training very hard during quarantine, and I will be ready for whatever is next for me.

“It is hard knowing that I will not be fighting soon, but this gives me more time to perfect the little flaws in my game, and I’ll comeback stronger when this all ends. Hopefully, everything goes back to normal soon, so I can get back to fighting actively and hopefully make Team USA as an elite boxer.”

While the Tokyo Olympics have been moved to 2021 (and will go on no later than 2021), before much of the qualifying was done, there will be a real dash trying to get everything set up for next year, even given the event itself is more than a year away. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just the Olympics itself, and amateurs may in some cases have an even harder time staying sharp than the pros.

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