Getting to know the U.S. Olympians
Undefeated featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. will return to the ring against Roberto Castaneda on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation this Friday. The fight will cap off an event called “Night Of The Olympians,” which will also feature the pro debuts of five standout boxers from the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
The Olympians featured will be Dominic Breazeale, Marcus Browne, Terrell Gausha, Errol Spencer Jr. and Rau’shee Warren, each of whom is profiled below.
Dominic Breazeale: Breazeale, 27, began boxing only three and a half years ago. The 6-foot-6 heavyweight made an immediate impact, though, winning a U.S. national championship and earning a spot on the 2012 Olympic team.
A former quarterback for the University of Northern Colorado, Breazeale was capable of throwing a 72-yard pass. He loves working with troubled youth.
Marcus Browne: A three-time New York Golden Gloves, 2012 national and 2010 PAL champion, Browne is a versatile southpaw in the light heavyweight division.
Browne, 21, was groomed in Staten Island, N.Y., under the tutelage of Gary Stark Sr. and Teddy Atlas, and loves getting manicures and pedicures. Browne did a Sesame Street webisode scene with Elmo.
Terrell Gausha: The Cleveland resident is a two-time U.S. national champion who earned a spot on Team USA at the London Games after a stellar 2012 that included a series of upset wins at the USA Championship tournament.
A 24-year-old middleweight, Gausha had his own billboard in downtown Cleveland during the 2012 Olympic Games, where he defeated Armenia’s Andranik Hakobyan by referee stoppage in his first fight.
Errol Spence: Born and raised in Dallas, Spence, 22, began boxing at the age of 15, and was featured in US Weekly‘s “Hot Bodies” issue.
The junior middleweight won three consecutive U.S. amateur championships before securing a spot in the London Olympics, where he won fights over boxers from Brazil and India before a quarterfinal loss to Russia’s entrant knocked him out of medal contention.
Rau’shee Warren: The first American boxer to make three Olympic teams, Warren, 25, now looks to follow in the footsteps of fellow Cincinnati fighters such as Ezzard Charles, Aaron Pryor and Adrien Broner.
A 2007 world amateur champion, Warren won his first fight at the age of eight, has competed in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and will debut as a bantamweight. He owns more than 300 pairs of shoes, wearing a size 4 1/2.
Learn more about each Olympian in this Q&A:
What do you think will be your greatest strengths and attributes as a pro?
Dominic Breazeale: My strengths as a professional will be my presence in the ring. I’ll be the bigger, stronger, faster boxer. I also have developed a strong, controlling jab.
Marcus Browne: My greatest strength will be my power and professional style of boxing.
Terrell Gausha: I think my greatest attributes as a pro will be my ability to think and keep a level head in pressure situations.
Errol Spence: My combination punches, defense, my composure and ability to adjust in the ring.
Rau’shee Warren: My hand speed and my footwork because speed equals power.
Since starting to train for your pro debut, what has been the biggest surprise or adjustment you’ve had to make?
Breazeale: There hasn’t really been much of a surprise or adjustment. The only thing that changed is that training got that much harder.
My training went from using the three-minute bell for roughly 20 rounds to just working 90 minutes straight and getting water when you need it.
Of course sparring is now six to eight rounds long when it used to be three to five rounds, but I expected that to happen.
Browne: The biggest adjustment is just sticking to the game plan and executing no matter what happens during the course of a match.
Gausha: Nothing has really surprised me because I have been working with pros for a while now, but I think an adjustment that I definitely have to make is the pace.
Spence: I think I had a pro style in the amateurs, so really just picking my shots better and taking off the headgear.
Warren: The biggest adjustments will be just staying patient, calming down, taking my time and picking my shots.
Do you have something to prove, and, if so, what?
Breazeale: Every time I get in the ring, I have something to prove. I want to prove to fans and supporters that as an amateur I was good, but as a pro I will be great. I love proving people wrong. They said four years ago “he can’t box, he’ll never make it.”
I think that really drove me to becoming an Olympian. Once you are an Olympian, you are always an Olympian — never former, never past. The only thing left to prove is that I’m the champ. I can hear it now “and the new heavyweight champ.”
Browne: I think I have something to prove to both my supporters and myself. Besides that, I just have do what I do best.
Gausha: I want to prove that I am a force in the middleweight division and not to be overlooked.
Spence: Yes I think I have a lot to prove, just coming in as an Olympian, there are high expectations from others and I want to be known as one of the greatest, so I have high expectation for myself as well.
Warren: At this stage with me being a three-time Olympian, the fans will be watching to see what I can do because I’m a pro now and I’ve been an amateur for so long. I don’t have anything to prove to myself, but to others maybe.
What distinguishes yourself from your Olympic teammates?
Breazeale: I’m not your ordinary professional debuting boxer. I say this because I’m a married man with two kids. Yup, married to my beautiful wife Christina for five years and I have two sons. My oldest, DeAngelo, is 4, and Devin is 9 months.
I also have a college degree in criminal justice from the University of Northern Colorado. I started as a college Division 1 quarterback at the University of Northern Colorado. Football has always been a part of my life since I was five years old.
But boxing, on the other hand, has only been in my life for the last four years. Prior to June of 2008, I never boxed before.
Browne: I feel like I bring pizazz and a breath of fresh air to the light heavyweight division, but I’d rather let my fists do the talking.
Gausha: I think one thing that distinguishes myself from the rest of my Olympic teammates is my will to win, not to take anything away from them.
Spence: Personality-wise, I’m probably more laid back and quiet than the rest of my teammates.
Warren: The only thing is that I’ve been to the Olympics three times, but in the ring, we’re all the same, we’re all human.
Is there more pressure on you on the eve of your pro debut than when you were fighting as an amateur?
Breazeale: Of course there is more pressure on the eve of my professional debut, but I think it will help me more then it could harm me. The pressure will keep me on my toes, aware and alert.
Browne: No not at all. I’ve been on the world stage at the Olympic Games so that experience was very helpful. I’m just going to have fun and not worry about what others think.
Gausha: I really don’t think it’s more pressure. This is what we have been working our whole careers for, to reach this point. I’m doing what I love to do and having fun doing it…no pressure.
Spence: There’s a bit more pressure, it being my pro debut and all, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. The goal has always been to win.
Warren: No, not all. I feel more relaxed and more confident this time around. I feel like I should have done this a while ago.
But I always had a dream of going to the Olympics and winning a medal. Now I have to focus on a new dream of becoming a world champion.
Have you ever had a fight without headgear? What do you think it will feel like when you don’t wear it as a pro?
Breazeale: No, this is my first fight without headgear. I think the feeling will be great. I never really liked wearing headgear.
Browne: No, I haven’t had a fight without headgear and that just means I have to work on my defense and not get hit, but in boxing when will you not get hit?
Gausha: I’ve had seven fights without headgear while competing in the World Series of Boxing and I honestly feel that it better suits me. I can see better and move more freely.
Spence: I’ve never fought without headgear. That and the smaller gloves will be the only adjustment that that I will have to make. I’ll probably feel the punches more and be more vulnerable to cuts and head butts.
Warren: I had eight fights in the World Series of Boxing so fighting without headgear won’t be new. In the WSB, there were a lot of things that were different: no shirt, a bigger cup and no headgear.
It was really different at first, but now I feel like it’s going to be easier because I know what to expect. I know how to go in the ring and be comfortable. All those little things count.
Can you tell us something about yourself that no one really knows — habits, hobbies, superstitions, etc.?
Breazeale: I love the look and sound of a saxophone and one day I’m going to teach myself how to play it like a pro. It’s always been a passion of mine and I just don’t understand why.
Browne: I love shopping, buying and listening to music, helping others and putting on for my city (New York City/Staten Island).
Gausha: I always watch Sugar Ray Leonard and Andre Ward before my fights. I take bits and pieces of their style and add it to my own. They are two of my favorite fighters.
Spence: I’m a laid back conservative guy, but I do like to dance and play video games.
Warren: Sometimes I like to dance a little to warm up, especially if Adrien Broner is with me so you might see a few dance moves before I walk to the ring.
What will you do with your first professional boxing paycheck?
Breazeale: My first paycheck will go straight to bills and whatever is left will go in savings. Remember I’m a family man I have big responsibilities. Family first.
Browne: Of course, I have to pay rent to my mom and I’ll put some money into my 401 K as well as my life insurance policy. I’m not planning in leaving anytime soon, though.
Gausha: The first thing I want to do with the money I receive from my first pro fight is put some aside for my daughter’s college fund.
Spence: It’s going straight to the bank! I’m the cheap one on the team.
Warren: I haven’t decided, but I know Christmas is coming up. I have two little boys and a daughter coming, so I have to get ready for that. I have kids to feed.
If there is one special material possession you could get from your success, what would it be?
Breazeale: Of course I would love to be debt free for my wife, my kids, their kids and myself. As far as a special material possession, it would be the belt or should I say belts.
Browne: It would be a great fan base and a great way of living meaning wealth, health and happiness. GODIsGreat!
Gausha: I honestly want to own a house.
Spence: My boxing shoes and ring attire from the Olympics. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience in my life fighting in front of the world and representing my country with the world’s best athletes.
Warren: Material possessions aren’t important to me, but I would like a Lamborghini…a red one.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]