CAPITOL HEIGHTS – When the 2016 Olympic Games begin in Rio, Antuanne Russell will join the likes of former DMV Olympians such as Clarence Vinson (2000, Bronze Medal), Charles Mooney (1976), Louis Curtis (1976), along with the greatest Olympian from the DMV, Sugar Ray Leonard (1976, Gold Medal). Russell, who is just 20 years old, […]
CAPITOL HEIGHTS – When the 2016 Olympic Games begin in Rio, Antuanne Russell will join the likes of former DMV Olympians such as Clarence Vinson (2000, Bronze Medal), Charles Mooney (1976), Louis Curtis (1976), along with the greatest Olympian from the DMV, Sugar Ray Leonard (1976, Gold Medal).
Russell, who is just 20 years old, is a member of the Russell boxing family of Capitol Heights. They are the most decorated family in amateur boxing history, as all four brothers have won the National Golden Gloves championship. Gary, Jr. won in 2005, Allan won in 2010, Antonio won in 2013 and Russell won in 2014. Gary, Jr. was also an Olympian after he made the 2008 team, but did not participate due to extenuating circumstances.
Gary, Sr., coach of all of his sons, calls the family “the blood lines of royalty, and Antuanne is the prince.”
“We expected him to make the Olympic team,” said Gary, Sr., who is proud of his youngest son and how he distinguished himself as a scholar. “Antuanne was the valedictorian of his senior class in high school. He carries that mind set into each fight.”
Gary, Jr. said he also holds a lot of pride for his brother.
“What I am most proud of is the way he listens to our father,” he said. “He is so smart, in and out of the ring.
“We give our parents all the credit for our success. They instilled the work ethic that we all display.”
The Russells are humble. They don’t seem to realize what an incredible accomplishment it is to have four brothers with National Golden Gloves championships and a professional with a world title belt.
“I listen to my coach, because he not only coaches me, he is my father,” Russell said. “He makes me focus. We sometimes work out seven hours a day.”
The path to the Olympics is a tough one. After a fighter “makes” the U.S. team, they must compete in an international tournament and win against a foreign opponent, not once, but twice.
“It’s almost like the pros,” said Gary, Sr. “There is no head gear like regular amateur tournaments and they fight five round fights. They do get paid, which is good. That is why some young fighters turn pro rather than try out for the Olympics.”
One such fighter is D.C.’s own Lamont Roach, Jr. He was favored to make the team, but his father made the decision to turn pro instead of going through the grind of making the U.S. team. Plus, if a fighter fails in the international tournament of the trials, they can be left off the team.
Russell will fight in the 141-pound division. He is a natural southpaw and according to his dad, he “has knockout power.”
With less than a monthleft until the start of the games, Russell is training in Colorado Springs.
“We are check sparring, along with strength and conditioning work,” Russell said. “Because the air quality is different, the altitude. It’s a big advantage for when we go out of the country to compete.
“As for techniques, my father tweaks things so I can keep improving.”
But how can his father work with the fighter when he is home and the fighter is in Colorado? “Don’t forget, he has been training me all my life. He can tweak me with his eyes closed.”
Associate Olympic boxing coach Kay Koroma has followed the Russell family for years.
“Antuanne was way ahead of his years,” he said. “He was doing things that his older brothers were doing when he was 10 years old. He is one of the fighters that we expect to medal in Rio.”
Russell has very little experience in international boxing, but Koroma said “he’s stepping up.”
“He trusts us as coaches and he is showing that he really wants it,” he said.
The Olympic coaches find it hard to focus on would-be opponents in Russell’s division because a lot of the fighters they thought would qualify from other countries did not.
“Since Antuanne is kind of a rookie, everybody is a threat and we have to look at it like that,” Koroma said.
Russell is a supremely confident fighter with tremendous skills and the entire family is looking for the “prince” to bring home the gold.