Atlas Still Seething At AIBA's Hijinks, Unimpressed With US Men's Effort
|Written by Michael Woods|
|Thursday, 16 August 2012 13:19|
Teddy Atlas worked the Olympics for NBC, and got back from London on Monday. On the phone Wednesday, he sounded a bit tired, understandable with the travel grind he experienced. And, if you are familiar with Atlas, you know he feels things deeply, takes them to heart, and it sounded like the foolishness surrounding the scoring at the Games had him a bit down. But, typical Teddy, once he warmed to the topic, he was like a thoroughbred fighter who looked a bit gassed late, but summoned something from somewhere to rally hard in the championship rounds.
I asked the Staten Island, New York-based analyst if he saw the American effort at the Games, specifically the men's side, as I did. Teddy, was this a diaster, for the men to go medal-less for the first time ever in a Games?
"Yes," he said, without hesitation. "They need to take a wrecking ball to the men's program, and start with the executives (at USA Boxing). They need to pick the right coaches, and have a team philosophy, and prepare infrastructure properly. They should all be fired. I think some are in patronage jobs, and I don't know if the others don't know enough, or don't care."
We can safely assume Atlas isn't overjoyed with the effort of USA Boxing executive director Anthony Bartkowski. He was quoted in the NY Times as saying that the USA team is hampered by a lack of cash, and thus, the squad had a scant month to train together and absorb a philosophy from a coach that was picked at the 11th and half hour, Basheer Abdullah. "They need to put a proper program in place," said Atlas, who saw how things worked, and more often, didn't work, over three weeks in London. (It was mind boggling to me that coach Joe Zanders was dumped, and Abdullah hired, a month before the Games. Makes sense to me to hire a coach TODAY, and have that guy oversee the formation of a squad between now and 2016. Then again, if the budget is really so woeful, it might be hard to find a quality person who wants a respectable salary, and keep them for four years. Chris Mannix of SI reported that the program got less than half a million of funding for the year before the Games. Now, I am not sure how the funding rises and dips according to how many years it is before the Olympics, but can some smart people not work on getting the funding in place so we can hire an ace, be it an American one, or Cuban guy, or whatever?)
Now, Atlas didn't merely single out some suits here; he took aim at some of the fighters who looked like they didn't want a medal as much as some would assume they would, or as much as they maintained they did on Twitter.
"I want kids on the team that are not just happy to be there," said the analyst, who works mainly for ESPN. "It would be nice see the Americans cry after they lost, like the European kids did, like (Errol) Spence did. It's not a coincidence he did better than most everyone, he showed his emotions."
Essentially, AIBA acted as a state commission would, seperate from a promoter, at the Games, giving them leeway to influence scoring and thus, who received medals. (Though no evidence of impropriety has been found, to this date.)
I will share some more of what Atlas suggested can be done to shore up the program, as well as some insights from Emanuel Steward, long a champion of our amateur program, but today someone who illustrates how far the program has fallen, as he admits he barely heard of any of the boxers on the US team. Check back for more later...