This looked like the script of a heartwarming movie: a promising 15-year old boxer gets falsely accused of murder, spends 15 months in juvenile detention before a jury acquits him, comes back to win a national title and earn a shot at the 2012 Olympic team.
But, at least for now, there is no Hollywood ending for Chicago fighter Semajay Thomas.
And his coach, Nate Jones, blamed Thomas for letting his chance slip away without a real fight.
"I'm so disappointed," Jones said Tuesday afternoon. "He could have made the story even better."
A day after his controversial defeat in the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials inMobile, Ala., Thomas was disqualified after failing to make weight for what would have been his Tuesday evening bout in the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
"We're going back to the drawing board," Thomas said late Tuesday morning. "I guess I'm going to turn professional now."
Thomas had said Monday that he didn't want to continue in the Olympic trials after feeling he was cheated in the 20-18 loss to Pedro Sosa in the 141-pound class.
"He just gave up after that," Jones said. "I begged him to get the weight off (Monday) night, but he didn't want to do it. He thought everything was rigged against him. I told him, `I can't make you fight, but you don't know what you are losing.'"
Jones said Thomas reacted to the frustration of the defeat by eating too much Monday, then decided early Tuesday morning he wanted to try to make weight. By then, Jones said, Thomas was 10 pounds overweight. He was still three pounds heavy at the 8 a.m weigh-in.
"You can't lose all that at the last minute,'' Jones said.
Under USA Boxing's Olympic selection process, Thomas still would have a chance to make the 2012 Olympic team if the 141-pound winner at the trials does not get a top-10 finish at September's World Championships. To do that, Thomas would have to win the U.S. title again in 2012 and do well at an international qualifier next spring.
"I'm an American, so I'm not going to hope that our boxer doesn't do it at the world meet,'' Jones said. "But Semajay should stay prepared. He shouldn't turn pro until the worlds end."
Jones was not sure he would keep working with Thomas.
"In my gut, I'm crushed," Jones said. "I've been five years with this kid. He is something special. But I'm too hurt by this right now to know (whether he would remain Thomas' coach)."