Boxing at Youth Olympics set to begin Oct. 14
Following the 2017 Women’s Youth World Championships and 2018 Youth Continental Championships, two men and two women have been nominated for the prestigious competition. The team will be comprised of Heaven Garcia (El Monte, Calif.), Otha Jones III (Toledo, Ohio), Roma Martinez (Humble, Texas) and Harley Mederos (New York, N.Y.).
“We’ve got a great group of young talent representing Team USA at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires,” said USA Boxing High Performance Director Matt Johnson on the nominated boxers. “Each one has good international experience, having participated in a junior or youth world championships over the past few years. That experience will be key as they face some of the world’s best up and coming boxers this October.”
Garcia has been on the international scene since her impressive World Championships debut in 2015, where she became the Junior World Champion. The bantamweight represented Team USA at the 2017 Youth World Championships in Guwahati, India before clinching her spot to Argentina with her winning performance at the 2018 Youth Continental Championships this May. She is a two-time USA Boxing Youth National Champion, and currently has a record of 53-7.
“Being able to represent my country at the Youth Olympics is something I have worked hard for and now that I get the opportunity, I will be sure to work even harder to bring home that gold medal.”
Light welterweight Jones III solidified his position on Team USA by winning gold at the 2018 Youth Continental Championships. Jones III will be looking to add his third international medal in 2018 at these Games, after his silver medal performance earlier this year at the Emil Jechev Memorial Tournament in Bulgaria. Jones, who has a record of 267-11, is also the 2017 USA Boxing Youth National Champion, as well as a member of the 2015 Junior World Championships team.
“Not only is it an honor to represent Team USA in a huge tournament such as the Youth Olympics, I am pleased to represent my family as well,” stated Jones III.
“I grew up in the boxing gym. My family owns a gym, Soul City Gym, and all my brothers and sisters were brought up in the gym to show kids a better way to live than violence and making it this far will help me show that even more.”
Martinez was the sole American to qualify from the 2017 Women’s Youth World Championships last November. The featherweight was the 2016 USA Boxing Youth National Champion and 2017 USA Boxing Youth National Championship silver medalist. The Youth Olympic Games will be Martinez’s first international tournament of 2018, where she will be looking for her first international medal.
“When I received the notification that I was nominated for the Youth Olympic Games, I felt resurrected,” said Martinez. “I have experienced a few devastating life losses in the past six months, and was feeling confused about my future in the sport,” she explained.
“However, when I was contacted about this amazing opportunity, my vision became clear, my mind focused and my heart determined to take this opportunity not only for myself, but for every person who hoped and dreamed for a chance like this. I plan to take on this journey to Argentina with me; my faith, my boxing skills and a quote from my late teammate: ‘a boxers favorite scripture – it is better to give than to receive.”
Mederos is the final member of Team USA to be nominated for the Youth Olympic Games. The lightweight won bronze at the 2015 Junior World Championships prior to his transition to the youth division. Mederos is the 2017 Youth National Champion and earned his place to Buenos Aires following his impressive gold medal winning performance at the 2018 Youth Continental Championships.
“It feels amazing to be able to go to Argentina and represent my country in what I love to do most and get the chance to showcase my talent in front of everyone,” stated Mederos.
“I can guarantee you, the best Harley you’ve ever seen, both physically and mentally, will go out there and do the best that I can do and make everyone proud.”
All four boxers will return to Colorado Springs in July to begin training for the Youth Olympics. Garcia, Jones and Mederos will use the 2018 Youth World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August as a tuneup leading to the event before heading to Argentina in late September.