Another day, another shot fired at Team Turmoil.
What should have been an uplifting moment for the foundering U.S. boxing team, a 4-1 victory for welterweight Kenneth Gould on Tuesday (Monday night in St. Louis), degenrated into name-calling and more finger-pointing aimed at the American coaches.Gould's father, Nat, is his trainer and a longtime amateur coach. After Kenneth won, despite a rocky start against Tanzania's Joseph Marwa, the elder Gould commenced sniping at his son's handlers.
"They don't know how to hold a punching mitt," he said. "The training room at the Army base here is so small you run into the walls.
"If they don't start training him right, I'm going to do it in my hotel room. They're confusing him."
At least the U.S. coaches got Gould to the arena on time. He arrived three hours before his bout was scheduled to begin.
U.S. boxing coach Ken Adams has said he takes responsibility for Anthony Hembrick missing his fight Sunday night, but it was left to assistant coach Hank Johnson to break the news to Hembrick that the U.S. appeal of the forfeit decision had been denied.
This was not the toughest thing anyone has had to tell Hembrick. In 1986, Hembrick's brother was murdered in Detroit. But Johnson took this assignment hard.
"I said, `Let's sit down and talk a little,' " Johnson said. "I told him we didn't get the decision. I'll never forget the expression on his face. It was like I was joking and not being serious.
"All the time we talk to the boxers about the Olympics and what it means. We tell them, `This is for your mother, father, sister, brother, do or die,' and then to have this happen."
Hembrick spoke with a group of reporters for the first time late Tuesday and said, "I shed a few tears, yeah. It was a dream I held for years (to box in the Olympics). It was taken from me so quickly, so fast. I lost so much. I can't even go back to Detroit and say to my friends, `I boxed in the Olympics,' because I didn't."
Hembrick said Adams had hugged him Sunday night and said, "Hit me, kick me, do whatever you want to do."
Hembrick laughed about that. "I've always had confidence in coaches," he said. "Whatever they say is good for me; that's why you have them in your corner.
"I could have thrown a tantrum - Boxer Goes Wild and Kills Coaches! - but I didn't get angry at them at all. They didn't mean it. They don't have to take all the burden. I'm not gonna die."
Robert Helmick, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said he had gone all the way to International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch, asking in a letter that Samaranch intervene and let Hembrick fight.
On what basis?
"We wanted to catch the Olympic spirit," said Paul Konnor of Milwaukee, the U.S. boxing team's attorney. "The Koreans said they wanted to be generous in these Olympics. The spirit is for everyone. We thought it would have been good PR."