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Team USA reveals six-fighter Tokyo Olympics roster

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Middleweight Naomi Graham will serve as team captain

AIBA Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament - Finals Photo By Alex Nicodim/Sportsfile via Getty Images

After canceling the Toyko Olympics’ Americas qualifiers in Buenos Aires for the second time, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) turned to its rankings system to fill the 49 slots previously up for grabs. Yesterday, Team USA revealed the four women and two men set to represent the nation this summer.

2019 Pan-American and world bronze medalist Rashida Ellis takes the women’s lightweight spot. Ellis, whose brother Rashidi is a fast-rising welterweight prospect, also won the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and is ranked 12th in the world at the weight.

“Qualifying for the Olympics has been one of my deepest dreams,” mentioned Ellis. “I never doubt my ability. I have stopped being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited about what could go right. So, I embrace my mistakes and learn from them, as my mistakes have helped me improve and reach the Olympics. I don’t do easy; I make things happen. The hard work and dedication with effort and determination, I can succeed.”

2018 world bronze medalist and 2019 Pan-American silver medalist Virginia “Ginny” Fuchs’ eight-year pursuit of an Olympic berth culminates in the women’s flyweight spot. The 33-year-old is ranked 16th in the world.

“I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. I am so excited I can finally call myself an Olympian,” stated Fuchs. “With all this world has been through and having to postpone the Olympics a whole year, I am proud to say I am one of the participants in what will be known as the most recognized Olympics in history. I am ready to represent my country in the most respected way and bring home the gold!”

Team captain and staff sergeant Naomi Graham, ranked 8th in the world, looks to follow in the footsteps of previous middleweight representative Claressa Shields. She claimed gold at the 2019 Pan-American Games and was a three-time national champion.

“It feels unreal that I am going to the Olympics,” Graham stated when talking about earning her place to Tokyo. “I continue to surprise myself by finding my own limits, and then having the courage to blow past them.”

23-year-old Oshae Jones, the inaugural Pan-American women’s welterweight gold medalist, enters Tokyo ranked seventh in the world. Her brother Otha Jones III was also an amateur standout and currently competes professionally.

“I may only take up one spot, but my one spot represents so much,” shared Jones. “I’m beyond grateful for the chance to represent women, African Americans, my small city of Toledo, but most importantly, my country.”

Cleveland’s Delante Johnson will look to parlay Pan-American bronze into Olympic gold at welterweight. He’d previously won the national junior Olympics in 2016 and the 2020 Olympic team trials.

“My struggles are my stripes, and I wear them on my back, so that the people around me can see that even when you’re living in a jungle, you can still chase your dreams,” stated Johnson. “I am not only doing this for my city, but for my two coaches, Dante Benjamin Sr. and Clint Martin, whom I lost during my journey to these Games.”

Finally, Richard Torrez Jr. becomes America’s first super heavyweight representative since 2012. He claimed bronze at the Pan-Am Games and a top-five finish at the world championships to secure a 11th-place world ranking.

“Everyone is happy they’re going to the Olympics, it’s everyone’s dream, but I need to be there,” said Torrez. “The fire that was instilled in me before I could even walk, that drives me to be the best, the fire that has been in my family for generations, has overflowed. It has set ablaze all my second options, and it has made ashes of any other possibility besides that of success.”