Golden Gloves: Former Olympic medalists reunite in Salt Lake
"Munich was do or die for me," he said. "And luckily I won."
He was voted team captain, and at 25 was one of the talented team's most experienced fighters thanks to his time in the military.
"You realize," he said of finally achieving his goal of representing the U.S. in the Olympic Games, "that just being an American is enough. …Only in America can I have the opportunities I have."
Seales path to the 1972 team was much more direct. He began boxing at age nine and felt passionately enough about the sport that he dedicated himself early.
He actually qualified in 1968 but was only 16, and Olympic rules required competitors to be 17.
"I had to wait another four years," Seales said. "After working for four years, my mother decided that she knew I was going to, and she bought a plane ticket to Munich, Germany, six months before I qualified. If your mama says you're going to do this, then you'd better do it. But I enjoyed what I was doing."
Like Valdez he feels privileged that he was able to represent the country he loves.
"It was unbelievable at first," he said of the experience. "I just enjoyed it."
The games, which were the first held in Germany since the 1936 Summer Olympics, will forever be marred when 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were held hostage and then killed by terrorists.
"We saw the terrorists out there walking around with machine guns," said Seales.
While German and Israeli officials tried to negotiate with the terrorists, Olympic competition was put on hold. Valdez said that the team captains were asked to meet after the ordeal ended to decide if and when they'd resume competition.
"We voted, and there were a lot of young people who said we should stop," Valdez said. "The older (athletes) said 'If we stop, then they win. This is what they want.' So we had a memorial, took a break and then went from there. We really didn't know all the facts about what had happen."
He said it was difficult not to think about the tragedy, but many dealt with it by focusing on the competition.
Seales can still describe in detail the moment he received his gold medal. His description of how it felt to have the medal placed around his neck as the Star Spangled Banner played induces chills, even after hearing is several times.
It is a moment he tries to share with anyone who wants to experience it. As he walks around the Salt Palace, he is often approached, and he always obliges people, whether it's a fan or a boxer, by pulling the gold medal from his pocket and transporting them back to that moment.
"I share it with everybody I can," he said, the tears brimming in his eyes. "This is the people's medal. They helped me. I didn't know them, and they didn't know me, but I know they were in front of the TV yelling, 'Get 'em, USA! Get 'em!"
He loves most to share it with those who are sick and those who aspire to do what he did in the Olympic Games.
"I take it to the hospital and I share it with them, and I make them cry," he said. "But I make them cry joyful tears, happiness because you see it on TV but you never get a chance to hold it much less wear it."
Seales retired from professional boxing after more than 430 fights because he lost his eyesight to a torn retina. He said after four days his sight returned in one eye and he felt it was a message from God. He doesn't regret a minute in the ring.
"I think boxing has given me more," he said. "It takes you off the street. It teaches you how to be a well-mannered person. It's a great sport."
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