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Ringside Report Looks Back at Boxer Raymond Russell – Boxing News

By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart

It is early in March 2024. I am doing my research for the weekly column I write about boxers from the past for “Bad” Brad and start the research into Raymond Russell. An Olympian from the 1972 Munich Games, he is yet another boxer for whom there appeared to be less than fulsome evidence out there of his career. Oftentimes I find these the hardest to investigate as we all need the detail to come to any form of conclusions but here was one of the biggest challenges of all.

And then I stumbled upon eBay.

This is not a site that I would ordinarily consult for any research into any boxer – even of now – But it pops up on one of my searches and off I pop for a look, see.

In 1971, Cincinnati born, former Marine Corps boxer, Raymond Russell won the Pan American games at light heavyweight. A gold medal was hung around his neck. And now for a small fee of $10, you can own it. There is, of course, postage to go on top, but for anyone who treasures the mementos of their careers, thus began a fascination of not why someone in their 80s would be looking to sell such an item for such a pittance, but why it was there was so little out there to report for one of the Olympian boxers who made up the ’72 squad.
What I started to find was some of the details of that amateur career. First in 1968, I find he was something of a Junior star and he knocked out Michael Lewis as a junior to take the national Junior championship at 175lbs.

In 1969, Russell was part of the US team who faced West Germany. In Cincinnati he took on Karsten Honhol and the referee stopped the contest giving Russell and the USA the win. This was after, in that very same year, he came a cropper in the National AAU contest when Dave Matthews outpointed him in San Diego, though he began the year well – beating Joe Greene on points in the inter-service boxing divisional championships.

We then pick up his tale, in 1971. In the National AAU eve3nt he completes at 178lbs, he fights three times. Having dispatched Thomas Phinizy and Billy Ratcliff, Marvin Johnson takes him on in the semifinal. He gets beaten on points and misses out on the final. He also manages an appearance at the inter-service boxing divisional championships, this time recording two wins.
Then in June of that year he is taking on Lousi Slaughter in the Pan Am Boxing Trials Tournament. He wins on points. It is a name with heavy significance later, in his story. Russell wins on points.

At the Pan American Games, Russell successfully fought four times. The contest was stopped by the referee against Marcelino Carmona, before three straight points wins – against Luis Valler in the quarter final, Humberto Salguero in the semi final and then in the final against Waldemar Paulino. A hard-fought medal and even with scant information, worth far more than $10.
And so, 1972. Olympic year. And before the big event, the Olympic Trails. Russell fought three times for the squad. Twice in the trials and once thereafter. Twice against the same opponent.
You guessed it.

Louis Slaughter.

Firstly, in the quarter finals Russell got rid of Charles Bromley with a 3rd round stoppage. In against Slaughter for the semifinal, Russell was to lose on points. Then came the call up for a light heavyweight box off, just over a fortnight after the original trials. At West Point, Russell beat Slaughter to take the Olympic spot and deny Slaughter for the second time an opportunity to box at a major championship.

The ‘72 squad included Davey Lee Armstrong, who went on to win a gold at the Pan American games in 1975, and represent his country again in the 1976 Montreal Olympiad, Tim Dement who was but a teenager at the Games and Ricardo Carreras who took bronze. There were also Lousi Self, a double Golden Gloves winner, James “Bubba” Busceme, another highly decorated amateur, also a Pan American gold medalist and a triple Golden Gloves winner and “Sugar” Ray Seales who came back from Munich with the only gold medal, and who had a memorable trilogy as a professional with Marvin Hagler. Included in the team were also two further bronze medalists in Jesse Valdez and future three-time world light heavyweight champion, Marvin Johnson. Finally, the team was completed by Pan American bronze medalist Reginald Jones and Duane Bobick who made the team ahead of Larry Holmes.

Russell’s own performance at the Games saw him beat the Kenyan Stephen Thega in a second-round stoppage before a points loss – by only 3 to 2 – against the Pole, Janusz Gortat. Gortat was to go on and win the bronze medal when he was defeated in the semi-final by Mate Parlov. Gortat returned in 1976 to go all the way again to the semifinals, only to lose to the eventual gold medalist – Leon Spinks.

As for Russell…

And then we stop… the well runs dry.

In an internet age where there is much out there of trivia, conspiracies, lies and nonsense, it seems pretty darn poor that there is nothing on such a fine boxer than a few records and an eBay posting but there we are. Now, I am not off on a search, and should Raymond Russell have decided that he wishes to remain out of the spotlight, then I for one am content to respect that. But for a moment, I hope that my search and my interest simply reminded somebody somewhere of the era where one Raymond Russell represented his country in a games that is remembered for all the wrong reasons, but could be cherished by so many athletes for all the right ones.

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