Roy Jones, frustrated by the judges who deprived him of Olympic gold at the 1988 Olympics, is now feeling a different kind of frustration.
“I’m trying to get my first professional fight lined up, and I’ve learned it’s not easy getting started,” Jones said today.
Jones is the only one of this year’s 10 Sullivan Award finalists to leave the Olympics without a gold medal in 1988. The award, to be announced tonight, is given to the nation’s top amateur athlete.
Jones, of Pensacola, Fla., the youngest member of the U.S. boxing team at 19, lost a controversial 3-2 decision to South Korean Si-Hun in the gold medal bout at Seoul. Most ringside observers thought Jones dominated the fight.
“I was still bitter about the decision when I returned to the United States. Even though I was selected the top boxer at the Olympics (by the International Amateur Boxing Assn.), I kept asking myself, if I was the top boxer, how come I didn’t have the gold medal?” Jones said.
‘I Had Been Robbed’
“But, then when I came back to the United States, I found so many people who supported me, told me how I had been robbed, that I realized the people in this country felt I was the Olympic champion and that was why I went to the Olympics, to represent this country and be a champion for it.”
Battling back is nothing new to Jones, who lost to Frank Liles at the U.S. Amateur Championships last year and then had to defeat him both at the Olympic trials and Olympic box-offs to earn a trip to Seoul.
Florence Griffith Joyner, who won three Olympic gold medals and set two world records last year, is considered the favorite to win the Sullivan Award,
Griffith Joyner, 29, of Los Angeles, announced her retirement from track on Feb. 25. She already has been recognized the Sportswoman of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the winner of the Jesse Owens International Trophy.
Other contenders for the Sullivan Award are swimmers Matt Biondi of Moraga, Calif., and Janet Evans of Placentia, kayaker Greg Barton of Newport Beach; speed skater Bonnie Blair of Champaign, Ill.; figure skater Brian Boitano of Sunnyvale; captain of the U.S. Olympic volleyball team Karch Kiraly of San Diego; basketball player Katrina McClain of Charleston, S.C., and wrestler John Smith of Del City, Okla.
The winner will be announced tonight by Don Lash, 76, who won the coveted award in 1938 after finishing second the previous year. Lash, who won a record seven consecutive national cross-country championships, was asked to make the presentation in recognition of the 50th anniversary of his selection.