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Next stop: the Olympics - Gleason’s Gym sends top boxers to world stage

Legendary Gleason’s Gym was where ring titans from the United States Olympic Boxing Team tweaked their jabs, refined their upper cuts and added polish to their punches before departing for Beijing on July 21.

The eight-member squad, ranked number two in the world, made a last swing through New York for the famed training facility, 77 Front Street, where they fielded every element of a boxing workout before boarding the plane for the 2008 championship games in the Peoples Republic of China, August 8-24, including heavy and speed bag work, shadow boxing, and mitts and jump-rope training.

The crew included the 2007 World Champion and two-time Olympian, flyweight Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio). Warren is the first US boxer since 1976 to compete in two Olympic Games, having boxed at the light flyweight division as a 17-year-old in 2004. Joining him was fellow World Champion, welterweight Demetrius Andrade (Providence, RI); the 2005 World Championships bronze medalist and two-time national champion Gary Russell, Jr. (Capitol Heights, Md.), who demonstrated the speed and power which have earned him an Olympic berth.

The 2007 Featherweight National Champion Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Oh.) was accompanied by fellow national champions, light welterweight Javier Molina (Commerce, Calif.) and heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.). Molina is the youngest member of the Olympic team at only 18-years-old, but his youth hasn’t stopped him from reaching the pinnacle of his sport. Wilder earned a berth on the Olympic Team with less than 25 bouts and two years experience in boxing, and the 22-year-old says he receives constant inspiration from his daughter, Naiyea, who suffers from Spina Bifida.

Other contenders included Middleweight Shawn Estrada (E. Los Angeles, Calif.), the final U.S. boxer to qualify for the Olympic Games, winning a gold medal at the final Americas Qualifier in April in Guatemala. The eldest member of the team at 22, Estrada boxes for his uncle and father who encouraged him to take up the sport as a child.

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