P. Gonzalez Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

P. Gonzalez Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Paul Gonzales and his seven siblings grew up in the East Los Angeles projects, and the idea that one day one of them would win an Olympic gold medal just four miles or so down the road was beyond any of their wildest dreams.

P. Gonzalez Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

But with the help of a local police officer who plucked him off the streets and brought him to boxing and with a life tale that seemed to be written by a movie director down the road in Hollywood, Gonzales went on to become the city’s golden star when it hosted the Olympic Games in 1984.

P. Gonzalez Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Thirty years ago, in 1984, Gonzales was the first of nine American boxers to win gold at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Before the Olympics, he told reporters, “When I go back home, I’m going to go back with a gold medal and a limousine.” When I went home, I was greeted by a limousine and a gold medal.

Gonzales’s childhood made it seem unlikely that he would ever be able to win a medal of any kind. Before he was 7, his dad had already left the family. Even before he turned 12, he had already joined a gang and experienced being shot at and stabbed.

Gonzales turned his life around in the ring, with the help of ex-boxer and Los Angeles police officer Al Stankie. He boxed in the flyweight division because he was physically slight but mentally tough.

I first met Paul when he was nine years old,” Stankie told the Los Angeles Times. He was a naughty little boy. Adorable youngster.

To put it Simply, he was a tough, good, and Scrappy Guy.

Furthermore, he was cocky. Even when on the ground, Paul continued to throw blows. I had no doubt that he was committed, enthusiastic, and resolute.

Gonzales won the gold medal with relative ease after injuring his right hand in his opening bout at the Games against South Korea’s Kim Kwang-Sun and then needing hot wax treatment for the remainder of the day.

Gonzales claimed, “I felt my hand pop but I was going to box all the way through.” I was completely crippled on the right side, but I had to get this done.

Gonzales took both the Mexican and American flags to the podium, where he and his family celebrated his gold medal win. He is the first Mexican-American to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing and was born in the United States.

On August 11, 1984, the United States Squad Dominated.

Including Gonzales, eight other Americans won gold: flyweight Steve McCrory, featherweight Meldrick Taylor, lightweights Pernell Whitaker, Jerry Page, welterweight Mark Breland, light middleweight Frank Tate, heavyweight Henry Tillman, and heavyweight Tyrell Biggs (super heavyweight).

Evander Holyfield, the future heavyweight champion, was one of the few American boxers who didn’t win a gold medal at those Games. After a contentious ruling in his match with Kevin Barry, Holyfield, competing in the light heavyweight division in Los Angeles, took bronze.

Gonzales claimed that Holyfield was “robbed.” That was a strategic political move, for sure. It was difficult for Evander, and it was difficult for everyone.

Nonetheless, the United States put up a great performance at home.

That they did so well was all the more remarkable considering that just four years earlier, on March 14, 1980, a plane carrying 14 U.S. boxers and eight staff members crashed on their way to an international competition in Warsaw, Poland.

Lemuel Steeples, who had recently won a Pan American title, and Thomas “Sarge” Johnson, a coach for the 1976 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team, were both killed in the crash.

In preparation for the Los Angeles Olympics, the United States boxing team reorganised and rebuilt.

It was really Significant to us,” Gonzales said of the Plane Accident.

Many men who were on their way to Los Angeles perished in the disaster. Participants hoping to compete in the Olympics. A lot of outstanding fighters and coaches have passed away recently. In Los Angeles, we fought for them.

And there was the added strain of playing in front of the home crowd for the U.S. squad.

“There was so much pressure on us, not just to be good, but to be great,” Gonzales recalled.

Gonzales capitalised on his home-field advantage to become a fan favourite at the Olympics. He was the best boxer at the Games, and he won the Val Barker trophy for his efforts.

Gonzales Continued to Support his Community long after he Returned from the Olympics.

He has stayed in Los Angeles and even attempted to become a councilman there. Despite losing his initial political bid, Gonzales has proven time and again that he is not to be underestimated.

Gonzales speculated, “I might try again.” I’m a tough guy. For some reason, I always seem to get into arguments.

He trains young boxers at the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation and encourages them to pursue Olympic ambitions.

In the form of murals, his image may be found all across town. In Los Angeles, he is sought out by young boxers at the Eddie Heredia Boxing Club, which is conveniently located on Olympic Boulevard.

At a banquet hosted by the LA84 Foundation in Los Angeles last month, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Opening Ceremony for the 1984 Games, Gonzales was able to reconnect with several of his Olympic colleagues.


Gonzales reflected on his time at the Los Angeles Games, saying, “The thing that stands out to me most about L.A. was the friendship we enjoyed during those Games.”

It was breathtaking to watch Greg Louganis dive. When I first saw him dive, I wasn’t interested in the sport at all.

The track and gymnastics competitions were among ones I recall watching. We didn’t stop celebrating after the Closing Ceremony ended. A time of great joy, that’s all.


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