Mike Tyson

USA Boxing president writes open letter to Mike Tyson for ‘ending athletes’ Olympic dreams’

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In a letter to Mike Tyson, USA Boxing’s president criticized the Iron Mike Productions boxing promotion company for “undermining” the U.S. Olympic boxing team by offering the best amateur American fighters money to turn professional.

The letter was published on TeamUSA.org’s USA Boxing section on Tuesday.

Professional boxers haven’t been allowed to compete in the Olympics, but the International Boxing Association (AIBA) created its own professional circuit to allow boxers to make money and retain Olympic eligibility. It could open the door for pro boxers to compete at the 2016 Games, though pro boxing organizations such as the WBC are fighting it.

USA Boxing president Dr. Charles Butler wrote to Tyson that he’s “offering these athletes pennies on the dollar” compared to what they could be worth as Olympians. Butler suggested Tyson use the money being offered to donate stipends for amateur boxers instead.

Iron Mike Productions did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Butler wrote that “the other promoters are not prematurely stalking our future Olympic stars at this time.”

“Please do not take them from us,” Butler said. “If they win a medal for their country, you can always sign them to professional contracts at that time.”

Tyson never boxed in the Olympics but attempted to make the 1984 Olympic team at age 17. He lost to eventual gold medalist Henry Tillman at the Olympic trials after meeting Evander Holyfield for the first time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Mike Tyson,

USA Boxing trains and develops the United States Olympic Boxing Team.  We have been working hard to develop athletes to compete for our country in the 2016 Olympics.  We provide structure for many young athletes in poorer communities who are in dire need of guidance. We try to help our young men and women develop their boxing skills, and try to teach them values, a moral code, and the skills necessary to have a life after boxing.

Iron Mike Productions is offering money to our best athletes to turn “professional”. Many of these youngsters are living in poverty. These young boxers are foregoing their Olympic hopes and the hopes of our nation in exchange for a professional boxing contract now. You are offering these athletes pennies on the dollar of what they could be worth with an Olympic medal, or even potentially just being an Olympian.  You are also undermining the next United States Olympic Boxing Team in the process.

Mike, USA Boxing does not have the funds to compete with your offers. If you have money and would like to assist these young athletes and the sport, you should donate for athlete stipends to support the training of these boxers and help your country regain its prominence on the medal stand.  Please do not take them from us. If they win a medal for their country, you can always sign them to professional contracts at that time.

We have heard that you were waiting for early October so that our best hope, a 17-year-old athlete, can turn 18 and be of age to sign a contract with you. We have offered him a spot in our resident program at the U.S. Olympic Training Center where he can train in a safe environment and we can provide for his education. The facilities and support services at the Olympic Training Center are unmatched and would benefit him and his future in boxing greatly.

Mike, an athlete who is just turning 18 is too young for the world of professional boxing. The other promoters are not prematurely stalking our future Olympic stars at this time. You were a prodigy within USA Boxing in the early 1980s and understand the importance of our program; please don’t harm our 2016 Olympic team.

We ask, Mike, that you stop actions that will end these athletes’ Olympic dreams. The value of these youngsters can increase dramatically if they become Olympians and, better yet, Olympic medalists. You are offering them a pittance of their future worth.

USA Boxing’s dedicated volunteers give their lives and their time to rescue our young people from the disadvantaged communities often riddled with crime, drugs and gangs. We provide an outlet for these young people to release their aggression in a positive matter under strict supervision. We are the safest of contact sports—for example, boxing has just one-third the concussion rate of football. A doctor is present at every competition and every athlete receives pre and post-bout physicals, which is often more medical care than others in their community are receiving.

USA Boxing asks any readers of this letter who have compassion for these struggling athletes to donate what they can so we can help them pursue their Olympic dreams. Donations to USA Boxing can be made at:www.usaboxing.org or sending to:

USA Boxing

Open Letter Donations

1 Olympic Plaza

Colorado Springs, CO 80909

USA Boxing is currently moving in the right direction, our junior athletes won four gold medals in World Championships action in the last month and the United States has claimed 75 international medals in 2013. We are working extremely hard to give our young athletes the right resources, coaching and guidance to succeed at the highest levels.

Mike, you have been blessed with the talent to advance as far as you did in the sport of boxing. Please do the right thing now. Let our young boxers develop and represent the United States proudly in Rio de Janeiro. Don’t hurt your country by signing these athletes before they are ready to make the transition to professional boxing. Let’s work together to protect our fine young men and women as they seek to fulfill their Olympic dreams. Give them the opportunity to win in the arena, to become role models for succeeding generations and Olympic heroes for our country.

I ask your help.

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Diana Taurasi opens door for 2020 Olympics

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Diana Taurasi may not be done with the U.S. national team after all.

The four-time Olympic champion “hopes to play through the 2020 Summer Games,” according to ESPN.com.

Taurasi, 34, said playing at Tokyo 2020 “would be incredible” after speaking with U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan about her Team USA future earlier this month, according to the Arizona Republic. Taurasi recently signed a multiyear extension with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, though the exact contract length wasn’t disclosed.

“It would be probably the biggest accomplishment if I can make it to five Olympics, but that’s so far down the road,” Taurasi said, according to the newspaper. “I’ve always said I’m really worried about these next couple of months with Phoenix then I’ll regroup and talk to USA Basketball again.

“There’s so many great young player that if it’s time to move on and go that direction, that’s great. If they want me to around to help and win another gold medal, I’ll do anything they want me to do.”

New U.S. coach Dawn Staley, an Olympic teammate of Taurasi’s in 2004, said in March that her gut feeling was that Taurasi would return for Tokyo 2020.

Taurasi said in August, right after the Rio final, that she had likely played her last Olympic game, ending her career 32-0 at the Olympics.

“This was probably my last one,” Taurasi said on NBCSN. “I’ll have a talk about it with coach, but, for right now, I’m settled with four, and I feel good about it.”

If Taurasi plays at Tokyo 2020, she can match Teresa Edwards‘ American record of playing in five Olympic basketball tournaments. (So can Sue Bird, who is two years older than Taurasi but hasn’t committed to a 2020 run.)

Taurasi can also take aim at the U.S. Olympic basketball scoring record of 488 points held by Lisa Leslie. Taurasi is in second place with 379 points after Rio. She would need to average 13.7 points per game to surpass Leslie in Tokyo, assuming the U.S. plays its usual eight games. Taurasi averaged a career-high 15.6 in Rio.

Taurasi will be 38 years old in 2020. The oldest U.S. Olympic basketball player of all time was Tamika Catchings, who turned 37 two weeks before the Rio Games. Catchings has retired.

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MORE: Dawn Staley to coach U.S. women at Tokyo 2020

Julia Mancuso pushes past hip injury for final Olympic run

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When Julia Mancuso was 18 years old, a doctor told the ski racer that she needed to make a choice.

Continue competing (Mancuso had already been to an Olympics at age 17) or live a healthy life.

Mancuso was born with hip displaysia, a misalignment of hip bones that causes the joint to deteriorate faster than normal. The doctor told Mancuso she needed reconstructive surgery.

“I left crying and never went back to that doctor,” she said.

Mancuso went to the slopes instead.

In 15 years since that doctor’s visit, she put together one of the greatest Alpine careers in U.S. history — four Olympic medals (most by a U.S. female skier), five world championships medals and 36 World Cup podiums.

The right hip problems persisted. Mancuso did undergo hip surgery after her breakthrough Olympic giant slalom title in 2006.

The pain returned and, by 2015, became unbearable.

She underwent another hip surgery, this one much more complicated. The operation fixed cartilage damage, cleaned up bone spurs and put more anchors in her labrum because of a slight tear with doctors warning that her hip would probably be 90 percent of what it was, according to The Associated Press.

Mancuso spent six months on crutches. When she returns to the World Cup circuit this fall, Mancuso will have gone more than two and a half years between races.

“It’s really hard for me to walk normally,” Mancuso said last month. “A lot of people ask me why I’m doing it [skiing], because I can’t even walk. Why would I ski? The truth is, skiing is way easier. Skiing is fun because it is easy, and my body loves it. My body loves to ski, and my body needs to ski. … It improves my quality of life.”

Because of her hip, Mancuso said PyeongChang will be her fifth and final Olympics, should she make it there. She might not compete beyond next season.

The U.S. women’s speed team is deep — Lindsey Vonn, World Cup podium finishers Laurenne Ross, Jackie Wiles and Stacey Cook, the young Breezy Johnson. Even Mikaela Shiffrin dabbles. A maximum of four women per nation can start an Olympic race.

The super combined, where Mancuso earned silver and bronze medals at the last two Olympics, appears to be her best shot.

Mancuso is nothing if not dedicated, evidenced by Instagram Stories workout diaries. This complements her laid-back lifestyle, spending half her time in Fiji with her husband of five months and much of the other half in Maui.

She already has post-PyeongChang plans, to honeymoon in Tonga and dive with whales.

Before that, Mancuso hopes to have one more surprise Olympic season.

In 2006, she made her first World Cup podium two weeks before the Torino Winter Games, then won the giant slalom in Torino.

In 2010, she took silver in the Vancouver downhill and super combined despite making zero World Cup podiums in the previous two years.

In 2014, Mancuso snagged combined bronze thanks to the fastest downhill run in Sochi. That came during a season where her best World Cup finish was seventh.

Just making the Olympic team would mean history. No U.S. woman has competed in five Winter Games. Mancuso, halfpipe snowboarder Kelly Clark and cross-country skier Kikkan Randall can become the first.

Mancuso could also become the oldest female Olympic Alpine medalist.

“I’m excited to put my biggest and last effort into these next Olympics,” Mancuso said, “and then see what happens.”

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