LAS VEGAS (AP) — Featherweight Yarisel Ramirez was added to the Tokyo Olympics boxing tournament Saturday, becoming the 10th member of the U.S. team to qualify.
She had already traveled to Japan in anticipation of gaining a late slot, and news of her addition by USA Boxing set off a celebration with her teammates.
Ramirez is the fourth American fighter to be awarded a late place at the games. After the U.S. initially faced the prospect of heading to Tokyo with its smallest team in Olympic history, USA Boxing actually will have two more boxers in Tokyo than it had in Rio five years ago.
“Yarisel has been in this final training camp working extremely hard, waiting for this opportunity if her name were to be called," said Mike McAtee, USA Boxing's executive director. "During this whole process, Yarisel has showed nothing but maturity, determination and the drive to fulfill her Olympic dreams.”
Ramirez is getting one of the world qualifier allocation slots declined by Costa Rica's Julianna Rodriguez and Argentina's Leonela Sánchez, according to the website of the Boxing Task Force running the Tokyo tournament. Sánchez won the gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games while Ramirez won bronze.
The 22-year-old Ramirez was born in Cuba, and she lives and trains in Las Vegas. Her first fight will be July 24, the opening day of competition in Tokyo and exactly two weeks from her addition to the field.
“Through hard work, perseverance and faith, you can live your dreams," Ramirez said.
With Ramirez's addition, USA Boxing is currently the only team with a representative in all five women's divisions in Tokyo. The Olympics added two weight classes — including the 57-kilogram (125.7 pounds) division, Ramirez's featherweight, class — and increased the total number of women from 36 to 100 for the sport's third trip to the Olympics.
The U.S. is the most successful nation in Olympic boxing history, winning 50 gold medals and 114 total medals. But primarily thanks to qualification changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic, only six Americans — and just two men — were in the initial version of the Tokyo Olympic field two months ago.
Three American men were added to the field last month after being awarded world qualifier allocation slots: middleweight Troy Isley, featherweight Duke Ragan and lightweight Keyshawn Davis, who is likely the Americans' best gold medal hope among the men.
“We've got the team back together again,” U.S. head coach Billy Walsh told The Associated Press after the three men were added to the field. “This is the team I thought I was going to have a couple of years ago, when we were planning on being one of the best teams in the Olympic Games. They're all great team players who don't disrupt the chemistry. They've come back in and fit in really well.”
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