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.

Don King rips boxing federation

Medals or mosquitoes? Zika still talk of Olympic golf

Rory McIlroy
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Olympic qualifying for golf ends in seven weeks, at which time players will have to determine if medals outweigh mosquitoes.

For now, there is only concern.

Rory McIlroy was the latest player to say Zika was in the back of his mind. In an interview with the BBC after his Irish Open victory, he said he has been reading up on the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects. McIlroy is engaged, and he said they might be starting a family in the next few years.

“I have to monitor that situation,” he said.

Masters champion Danny Willett was the next to weigh in. Asked about it Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship, the 28-year-old from England said he was keeping on top of it. Willett’s wife, Nicole, had their first child just 11 days before he slipped on the green jacket.

“It’s not great, is it? There’s going to be 500,000 people watching the Olympics, and you have 11,000 athletes right in the heart of where it’s at,” Willett said. “If it turns out that it would be a massive threat to myself or to Nic or to the little man, then I probably wouldn’t go. Family comes first.

“But as it stands at the minute, I think everything should be OK.”

The Zika virus is in the news everywhere, which goes beyond the standard media outlets.

The International Golf Federation posted a two-page update on its website last month, and it is passing along Zika-related material from the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization to tours and player liaisons.

Andy Levinson, executive director of USA Golf, said Tuesday that updates from WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are posted in the weekly bulletins left in lockers and on the “Players Links” website, where PGA Tour players get other pertinent information they don’t want to miss – like tee times, and FedEx Cup points, and where to leave their courtesy cars.

Two weeks ago at The Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s doctor was in player dining for one-on-ones on Zika.

Vijay Singh made a passing reference to Zika last month when the 53-year-old Fijian decided not to play. Marc Leishman of Australia also mentioned Zika, and for good reason. His wife nearly died last year of toxic shock syndrome and her immune system remains weakened.

The other players to pull out — Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel — cited a busy schedule or family priorities.

Ask a player a question, and there’s bound to be an answer, even if it’s not entirely informed. McIlroy said he was planning to get “injections” on Wednesday so that “I will be immunized for whatever — if I do get bitten by a mosquito down there.”

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus.

IGF executive director Antony Scanlon said he was in Rio de Janeiro a few weeks ago for meetings and saw workers spraying “an unbelievable amount of anti-mosquito” repellant around the various venues. He also repeated the timing — August is the tail end of winter in Brazil, and mosquitoes are not expected to be as prevalent.

Scanlon said he was most curious by the silence from the other side — the women.

“If anyone is at risk, it’s the ladies,” Scanlon said Tuesday from London. “We’ve heard nothing from them. I’m sure they’ve got concerns. And we’re distributing as much information as we can to the players.”

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said as much two weeks ago during an Olympic news conference. He said five or six players have asked him about Zika, though none has said it would keep her from Rio. In an email Tuesday, he said not much has changed.

“They have been receiving regular updates on the topic,” Whan said. “No player has suggested she is not coming (at least not to me). But it is certainly a concern.”

It could be another example that the Olympics mean more to the women, who rarely get a stage as large as this and have a stronger tradition of competing for country in what was the first truly global tour.

Various headlines made it sound as though McIlroy and Willett might skip the Olympics because of Zika, and while their answers allowed some wiggle room, the context of their statements suggested nothing has changed.

At least not yet.

“We’re down to go and hopefully they can give us some proper guidelines as to how to keep it at bay and keep it under control so that it doesn’t ruin what could be potentially a fantastic Olympics,” Willett said.

“Not as apprehensive as I once was,” McIlroy said about the Olympics. “As it gets closer, I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold.”

This much is clear — golfers currently eligible for the Olympics are having to study more than hole locations and wind direction.

MORE: WHO: Olympics OK to go on

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing doping retest

Anna Chicherova
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London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.

TASS named nine 2008 Olympic medalists among 14 Russian athletes, citing a Russian TV report, including eight medalists in track and field, with Chicherova being the superstar of the group.

“Perhaps it’s just a mistake,” Chicherova said, according to an Associated Press translation of a Russian TV report. “I can’t explain how my doping test gave a positive result. I’ve competed a lot since then and given hundreds of samples.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.

Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.

Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.

Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.

“The Ministry of Sport is extremely disappointed to hear the speculation that Russian athletes are among those found to have violated anti-doping rules at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after re-testing their samples,” the Russian Ministry of Sport said in a statement through Burson-Marsteller public relations firm. “Any athletes found cheating should face corresponding sanctions.

“We have taken numerous steps to eradicate the issue of doping, and understand that the roots of the problem, particularly in athletics, go back to the past.”

MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics