In worst showing in 40 years, U.S. boxers will earn 6 medals Four fighters try to win gold today

August 18, 1991

HAVANA -- Not since Americans won three bronze medals 40 years ago in Buenos Aires has U.S. boxing been this bad in the Pan American Games.

The team that claimed it wasn't second string really was, and the result is only six Americans will go home with medals from these Cuban-dominated games.

The four remaining U.S. boxers fight today for gold medals, three against Cubans. Americans are 0-4 against Cubans so far, and none of the U.S. fighters has ever beaten a Cuban.

Their futility has even Cuban coach Alcides Sagarra searching for answers.

"The Americans didn't show the same training they had in Indianapolis," Sagarra said. "I don't think this American team isn't good, but maybe they aren't trained as they should."

Only the luck of the draw saved further U.S. embarrassment. Heavyweight Shannon Briggs, who has fought only 18 months, was guaranteed a silver medal without fighting when he got a bye into today's finals against Cuban world champion Felix Savon.

Teammate Steve Johnston got into his 139-pound final by fighting only one bout because his Brazilian opponent couldn't fight in the semifinals due to a broken finger.

"We wanted more, but I can't complain," said U.S. coach Kenny Loehr. "All the guys tried. That's the main thing. You've just got to try to keep getting the experience."

The Cuban team that figured to dominate these games, meanwhile, has done just that.


The U.S. women, led by middle blocker Bev Oden and outside hitter Natalie Williams, beat Argentina, 9-15, 15-6, 15-13, 15-5. The Americans finished fifth.

Rhythmic gymnastics

Lourdes Medina of Cuba was the all-around winner, but Canada edged Cuban and the United States for the team title.

Two Canadians won the other all-around medals.

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