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THE SEOUL GAMES / DAY 1 : Arbitrator Rules James Has Right to Box-Off

From Staff and Wire Reports

An arbitrator has decided that boxer Jerome James should be given another chance to make the U.S. Olympic boxing team although the International Olympic Committee roster deadline was Sept. 2.

James, upon winning arbitration, left for Seoul with his coach, Joe Taylor.

The president of the U.S. Amateur Boxing Federation, Col. Don Hull, was critical of the decision, made Thursday by Minneapolis arbitrator Richard Sharon.

“The arbitrator ruled that Jerome James should have a chance to make the team and ruled a box-off should be organized as soon as possible in Korea,” Hull said. “This is ridiculous--I just hope it doesn’t adversely affect Hembrick’s performance.

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"(James) and his coach are on a plane to Korea; they have no credential, they have nothing. I imagine our people over there will try to help because we respect him as a boxer. I don’t imagine they’ll completely turn their back on him; they’ll try to keep him from spending all night on the street.”

James had knocked out Hembrick in April at the U.S. amateur championships and was a solid Olympic team candidate at middleweight. He won the national championship at Colorado Springs in March when he upset Hembrick, stopping him in the first round.

Going into the Olympic team selection process, the USA Amateur Boxing Federation ranked him the country’s No. 1 middleweight.

But in the Olympic trials tournament at Concord, Calif., in July, he lost to Darin Allen, 5-0, in the quarterfinals. Hembrick then made the Olympic team box-off with a 4-1 decision over Allen.

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Allen and James were bypassed as Hembrick’s Las Vegas most favorable box-off opponent in favor of William Guthrie. However, Guthrie was sent home after he flunked a drug test at Las Vegas, and Hembrick made the Olympic team on a walkover.

“I told these people, James’ lawyer and the judge, that even the President and Congress of the United States couldn’t change it. It’s an international matter,” Hull said.

Hull said he first heard about James’ appeal Wednesday from the boxer’s lawyer, Rollyn Samp, and that the judge said in a conference call he needed information from both sides to consider arbitration. The ABF sent a memo detailing the process by which Hembrick made the team.

The judge, however, was persuaded by Samp’s detailed argument, Hull said.

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“We were grateful James came to camp as a sparring partner for three weeks before we left for Korea,” Hull said. “He volunteered to be a sparring partner for Hembrick--I don’t know if he thought he could sneak in and knock him out and take his place.

“He’s a real good hitter but he’s not a good boxer, he’s easily outpointed, but regardless of style, everyone has their chance. He failed his.”

“It’s unbelievable actually,” Hull said. “I don’t know why someone would be so foolish unless they have a lot of money to spend or are trying to build something.


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