Boxer continues to draw strength from his father

Times Staff Writer

BEIJING -- Boxer Shawn Estrada came here with a rather simple goal: get into the ring as fast as possible so his ill father could see him fight in the Olympics before he died.

He accomplished that only hours after the opening ceremony, dominating Argentina’s Ezequiel Maderna en route to a 10-2 victory that earned him a spot in Saturday’s round of 16. And there, Estrada said, he’ll be fighting for himself as well as his father.

“I just feel confident,” said Estrada, who will meet Britain’s James Degale, a stylish stand-up boxer who beat three-time Olympian Mohamed Hikal of Egypt in the opening round. “I’m ready to fight. It won’t stop here.”


It better not if Estrada, of East Los Angeles, is to help turn around what has so far been a disappointing tournament for U.S. boxers.

Only five of the nine fighters the U.S. brought to Beijing made it out of the first round. One, bantamweight medal favorite Gary Russell Jr., didn’t even make it into the ring after collapsing a day before the weigh-in while another, Commerce teenager Javier Molina, probably shouldn’t have answered the bell either after doctors determined he had a hole in his lung.

Weakened, Molina was routed in his only bout, as was lightweight Sadam Ali. World champion Rau’shee Warren, a two-time Olympian, lost a close decision in his opener.

Advancing with first-round wins were Estrada, light flyweight Luis Yanez, heavyweight Deontay Wilder, featherweight Raynell Williams and welterweight Demetrius Andrade, the reigning world champion.

On Thursday, Andrade outpunched Russia’s Andrey Balanov, a former European champion, to advance to Sunday’s welterweight quarterfinals

Estrada, meanwhile, has had five days off since his last bout, time he helped fill with six rounds of fast-paced sparring early in the week.


“Just continuing my training,” said Estrada, 23. “It doesn’t stop.”

Estrada’s father, who was given only two weeks to live when he was hospitalized because of kidney and liver complications in January, was too ill to come to China, but he’s here in spirit, with Estrada having built what he calls “a shrine” to his first coach in a corner of his dorm room. He’s here on tape too, having sent a video message to his son with an uncle who did make the trip.

“If you win the first fight,” Estrada’s father predicts in the video, “you can go the rest of the way.”

Juan Estrada has already proved to be an inspiration for his son. And with a win Saturday, his son could help him become a prophet too.