Undated (AP) _ ″We shocked the world,″ Darin Allen said after he and American teammates Kelcie Banks and Kenneth Gould won gold medals at the World Amateur Boxing Championships.
They certainly did.
After the U.S. Championships last March at Beaumont, Texas, Coach Pat Nappi said he would be pleased if the American contingent for the World Championships won one gold medal against such boxing powers as Cuba, Soviet Union, East Germany and South Korea.
The internationally inexperienced American team was in with much stiffer competition than the 1984 U.S. Olympic team faced during the boycotted Games at Los Angeles.
Cuban boxers such as super heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson and Adolfo Horta, a 132-pounder, both of whom have won three world championship titles, had more international bouts than the entire United States team.
Americans Vincent Phillips, 132, and super heavyweight Alex Garcia made their international boxing debuts during the 11-day competition at Reno, Nev.
″I’ll say this for our kids, they’re giving a good account of themselves,″ Nappi said.
At the time he said it, four of the first five American boxers to see action had lost, all on 3-2 decisions.
Talk in the American camp was how this was good experience for the young boxers and how U.S. boxing always faced a big turnabout in the two years following an Olympics.
It was recalled that the United States had won only one gold medal in the world championships in 1974, none in 1978 and three in 1982 - Floyd Favors at 119 pounds, Mark Breland at 147 pounds and Tyrell Biggs in the super- heavyweight category.
Yet Nappi, who coached the 1976, 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams and the 1982 world team, was still hopeful the United States would get four boxers into the semifinals. He got six.
On the off-day before the semifinals last Friday, Nappi was basking in the glow of an American turnaround.
″I’m very, very pleased,″ the 68-year-old coach said. ″They’ve done a tremendous job.
″The surpise is the desire these kids have turned out to have. They want it and want it bad.″
″We had a team meeting,″ Allen explained. ″We got it together.″
No one wanted it worse than Loren Ross, both for himself and for his teammates.
The three-time American champion at 178 pounds was team captain and chief cheerleader.
After Allen won his opening 165-pound bout before a crowd that could have been fit into a group picture, Ross’ voice echoed througout the 5,500-seat Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
As Ross shouted encouragement and chanted, ″U-S-A, U-S-A,″ Allen scored the first of four victories that would make him champion.
″Thank God for Loren Ross,″ Allen said. ″That was an emotional moment. I almost had tears in my eyes.″
Allen was on his feet cheering when Ross fought for the 178-pound title before a bigger crowd, although that’s not saying much. The announced total attendance for 18 sessions of boxing was 10,207, an average of 567 people per session.
But Ross lost a decision to Pablo Romero, now a two-time world champion from Cuba. Romero hit Ross low several times and hit twice after the bell, but received only one caution.
Nappi was incensed. Ross was disappointed and in pain.
But Ross, who is an Army cook stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, showed up at the medal ceremony and later at a reception where he gave the impression of a man satisified with a job well done and looking forward to the challenge of 1988.
Several of the American boxers at Reno should form the nucleus of a solid 1988 Olympic team.
Besides the three golds and Ross’ silver, Garcia, of San Fernando, Calif., earned a silver and Michael Bent of New York got a bronze at 201 pounds.
In five head-to-head meetings against Cubans, American boxers won three - Allen, of Columbus, Ohio, in the semifinals and Banks, of Chicago, and Gould, of Rockford, Ill., in the finals.
The other American to lose to a Cuban was Garcia, who in only his 19th bout became the great Stevenson’s 301st victim in the super heavyweight final.
End Adv For Tues PMs