In the grand arena of Santiago’s 2023 Pan American Games, the USA is sending a battalion of 13 boxing warriors, comprising seven gentlemen and six ladies. A dozen of these fighters are gracing the Pan American Games for the first time, except for the distinguished Naomi Graham, 34, of Fayetteville, N.C. She’s not just fighting; she’s aiming for back-to-back gold, an American dream untouched till now. The 75 kg division is her battlefield, where she’s geared to etch her name in the annals of glory, hoping her fists of fury at Santiago replicate her 2019 triumph and propel her into her second Olympian spectacle.
Shifting focus to Laredo, Texas, a border town cradling extraordinary tales. Emilio Garcia and Jennifer Lozano are hometown heroes gearing up for their Olympic debut in Paris 2024. The duo has shone brightly in 2023; Garcia bagging a gold and a bronze, while Lozano clinched two bronzes on international soil. Their boxing journeys began differently — Garcia draws inspiration from a lineage of boxers, while Lozano found her calling warding off bullies — but their eyes are set on a shared prize.
Remember the name Robby “Rahim” Gonzales, 27. This Las Vegas stalwart has his eyes set on the Olympic prize, needing only a top-two finish in Santiago. A man familiar with heartache, he missed the 2016 trials and had his 2020 Olympic aspirations dashed due to the pandemic. But resilience is his middle name, coming back to snatch gold at the 2021 Elite World Championships. This fighter is on a one-way track to his Olympic destiny.
Not to forget, we’ve got Omari Jones, a 20-year-old sensation from Orlando, Fla. After back-to-back gold victories at the 2023 GeeBee International Tournament and Czech Republic Grand Prix in the 71 kg division and a silver at the 2021 Elite World Championship, he’s no stranger to the podium. Similarly, Jahmal Harvey, 20, from Oxon Hill, Md., broke a dry spell for America, clinching the first elite world title for the country since 2007, adding to his overflowing cabinet of national golds.
Eyes also on the young guns, Alyssa Mendoza (Caldwell, Idaho), 20, and the youngest, Yoseline Perez (Houston, Texas), 19. They’re not just participating; they’re seizing medals in every international fight, showing they’re ready for the big leagues.
Completing the squad, we have Morelle McCane (Cleveland, Ohio), aspiring to continue a tradition of Olympic greatness; Jajaira Gonzales (Glendora, Calif.), a triple World Champion making a grand comeback; Roscoe Hill (Spring, Texas), the silver medalist at the 2021 World Championship; Joshua Edwards (Houston, Texas), a super heavyweight with golden dreams; and Jamar Talley (Camden, N.J.), aiming to rewrite history for Camden since 1928.
The gloves come on from October 19 to 27 in Santiago. This edition of the Pan American Games welcomes an additional female weight division, marking progress since 2011. For a direct pass to Paris, fighters need to secure a spot in the top two, except for the female 57 kg and 60 kg divisions, where a top-four finish is the golden ticket.
The Pan American boxing legacy began in 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The USA has since dominated, amassing a staggering 117 medals – 35 golds, 35 silvers, and 49 bronzes, leading the global tally.
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2023 Pan American Games Team Roster
- 50 kg: Jennifer Lozano, Laredo, Texas
- 51 kg: Roscoe Hill, Spring, Texas
- 54 kg: Yoseline Perez, Houston, Texas
- 57 kg: Alyssa Mendoza, Caldwell, Idaho
- 57 kg: Jahmal Harvey, Oxon Hill, Md.
- 60 kg: Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif.
- 63.5 kg: Emilio Garcia, Laredo, Texas
- 66 kg: Morelle McCane, Cleveland, Ohio
- 71 kg: Omari Jones, Orlando, Fla.
- 75 kg: Naomi Graham, Fayetteville, N.C.
- 80 kg: Robby Gonzales, Las Vegas, Nev.
- 92 kg: Jamar Talley, Camden, N.J.
- 92+ kg: Joshua Edwards, Houston, Texas