Rashida Ellis rebounds from Olympics, wins world boxing title

Rashida Ellis
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Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul on Friday.

Ellis, 26, beat Olympic silver medalist Beatriz Ferreira of Brazil in a 3-2 decision. It was a rematch of 2019 World Championships and 2019 Pan American Games semifinals, both won by Ferreira.

“It’s about time,” Ellis said, according to USA Boxing. “I feel good, I worked hard for this. I had to just fight my fight, and look what happens when I do.”

Olympic lightweight gold medalist Kellie Harrington of Ireland missed worlds due to injury.

Ellis won the lone U.S. medal at women’s worlds, which finish Friday.

Last year, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

“It’s not stopping me from becoming the best in the world,” she posted on social media after that defeat.

The Massachusetts native began boxing at age 10, following two older brothers into the sport.

“I started fighting boys in school and beating them up,” Ellis said before the Tokyo Games. “As a punishment, I had to go to the gym with my brothers. They put me in the ring, and I loved it.”

After the two-time Olympic champion Shields turned professional in 2016, U.S. women won one gold between the 2018 and 2019 Worlds — Danielle Perkins‘ heavyweight crown in 2019. Perkins won an 81+kg division. The heaviest Olympic weight division is capped at 75kg.

Oshae Jones won the U.S.’ lone women’s boxing medal at the Tokyo Games, a welterweight bronze. Jones, 24, is now listed as a professional boxer on her social media.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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Cuban boxers, an Olympic force for decades, can fight professionally

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HAVANA — Cuban boxers will be allowed to fight professionally for the first time since the 1960s under a deal with a Mexican promoter, officials said.

The scope of the deal announced Monday wasn’t immediately clear. The Mexican promoter, Golden Ring, appears to operate primarily in Aguascalientes, a city of nearly 900,000 people in north-central Mexico.

It held an event last year with Cubans participating on an amateur basis. The first bouts under the new agreement are scheduled for May, according to Cuban officials.

Cuba has been a global power in boxing on the amateur level, focusing heavily on Olympic success. It won four gold medals at the past Tokyo Olympics.

But for decades, Cuban sporting officials shunned the professional sport and lauded champions such as Teófilo Stevenson and Félix Savón never went pro.

“The moment has come. We have spent years studying this possibility,” said Ariel Sainz, vice president of the official Institute of Sport, appearing on state television Monday night.

“In professional boxing now there are opportunities for our athletes that we can perfectly well utilize.”

He also noted it would allow athletes to improve their incomes. Many Cuban athletes from other sports have left the island in recent decades to seek a lucrative professional career not available at home under Cuba’s socialist system.

Under the deal, Cuban officials said the boxers would get 80% of the earnings while trainers, doctors and the federation would split the remaining 20%.

Alberto Puig, president of the Cuban Federation of Boxing, said that professional boxing had “humanized” itself in recent years and argued there are now few differences in the rules.

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LA 2028 Olympics: Skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing in; boxing, weightlifting, modern pentathlon out (for now)

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Skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing, which made their Olympic debuts in Tokyo, are slated to remain on the program through the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

The IOC Executive Board announced Thursday the sports recommended for the initial program for the Los Angeles Games, to be confirmed by IOC members in February, listing 28 international federations.

For now, longtime Olympic sports boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon are not on the 2028 program, but there is a pathway for their inclusion. All three are on the 2024 Olympic program.

Boxing and weightlifting have been contested at every Olympics since 1920. Modern pentathlon has been at every Olympics since 1912.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the three sports’ international federations must address separate problem areas to the IOC Executive Board’s satisfaction. If so, they can be added to the 2028 Olympic program as early as 2023.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” Bach said.

In June 2019, the IOC stripped AIBA of its Olympic recognition following an inquiry committee report into finance, governance, refereeing and judging. An investigation later found that 2016 Olympic medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

Bach said the International Weightlifting Federation must transition “towards compliance and effective change of culture.” Specifically, it must address the sport’s historical doping problems and “ensure the integrity, robustness and full independence of its anti-doping program.”

More than 60 weightlifters who competed between the 2008 and 2012 Olympics later failed drug tests or retests of old samples, including more than 30 original medalists.

Modern pentathlon is in a very different situation. Its federation must determine a replacement for horse riding as one of its five disciplines.

“They must demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and improvements across the areas for safety, accessibility, universality, appeal for youth and general public,” Bach said.

Last month, the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) said horse riding would be removed to boost the chances of keeping modern pentathlon’s place in the Olympics. A UIPM commission recommended that riding be replaced by a to-be-determined discipline that “enhances the popularity and credibility of modern pentathlon, while preserving its status as the ultimate physical and mental sporting challenge.”

Separately, the sport of equestrian’s place in the Olympics is not in danger.

LA 2028 can also propose adding sports solely for its edition of the Games. That’s how skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing made it to the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo, and now all three are slated to be held at three consecutive Olympics.

Baseball and softball, which were added for Tokyo at the organizers’ request after being voted out of the Olympics after 2008, will not be on the 2024 Paris program but are hoping to return for LA 2028.

“As we look at additional sport recommendations, we will continue to focus on sports that are relevant to Los Angeles, provide an incredible fan experience and contribute to the success of the Games,” LA 2028 chair Casey Wasserman said in a press release. “We want to build on tradition, while progressing the Olympic Games forward.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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