Lightweight Carlos Balderas became the first member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic boxing team, it was announced Monday.
“We’ve been climbing up the ranks, and it’s a wonderful feeling because I remember when I told my dad [that I was going to the Olympics], and my dad got emotional,” Balderas said, according to USA Boxing. “My dad teared up. As a kid, you are set to so many standards and you’re told that you’re not good enough for this. You’re only capable of a certain amount of things, and I’ve proved to a lot of people that with God, anything is possible.”
Balderas, 19, qualified via his finish in the World Series of Boxing this past season and the finishes of those ranked ahead of him at the World Championships in October. Balderas lost in the Pan American Games quarterfinals in July.
U.S. men’s boxers were shut out of the medals at London 2012 for the first time at an Olympics (excluding the boycotted Moscow 1980 Games). Boxing debuted at the St. Louis 1904 Olympics.
Balderas first saw a boxing gym at age 7, for punishment.
“I was getting in to the fights and getting into trouble, and so they took me to the boxing gym so another kid could whoop on me and straighten me out,” Balderas said, according to USA Boxing. “The other kid actually had some experience, and it was my first time in a boxing gym, but it actually went the other way around. They asked if I had boxed before, and I told them that I hadn’t, and we realized that I just a natural-born fighter.”
The U.S. Olympic men’s boxing trials are Dec. 7-12 in Reno, Nev. The winners there must qualify the U.S. spots in the Olympics at international qualifiers next year.
The three women’s trials winners — Olympic champion Claressa Shields, Mikaela Mayer and Ginny Fuchs — must also qualify the U.S. spots before the August Olympics next year.
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Athletes qualified for 2016 U.S. Olympic team
Haley Anderson (Swimming) — @SwimHaley
Carlos Balderas (Boxing)
Morgan Craft (Shooting) — @morgancraft25
Glenn Eller (Shooting) — @wgeller3
Matthew Emmons (Shooting) — @mattemmonsusa
Vincent Hancock (Shooting) — @vincent_hancock
Gwen Jorgensen (Triathlon) – @gwenjorgensen
Michael McPhail (Shooting) —
Sean Ryan (Swimming) — @seanryan92
Keith Sanderson (Shooting)
Nathan Schrimsher (Modern Pentathlon) — @pentnate5
Sarah True (Triathlon) — @sgroffy
Jordan Wilimovsky (Swimming) — @j_wilimovsky
Jennifer Wu (Table Tennis)