BADALONA, Spain -- When U.S. flyweight Tim Austin entered the arena for his first Olympic bout after a week of waiting, the first face he saw was that of his close friend, Ravea Springs. Austin was looking up at the ceiling and Springs was looking down from the balcony when the two sets of eyes met. The sight was enough to move Austin to tears.
"When I looked up and saw Ravea there, I got a soft spot in my heart," said Austin, who broke down in the post-fight interview area after manhandling Bulgaria's Julian Strogov, 19-7. But then, people who have been through what Austin has in the first 21 years of life often find reason to break into tears.
"He's been through a lot of adversity," said John Falcone, Austin's trainer at Cincinnati's North Side Boxing Club.
When he was 14 years old, Austin, of Cincinnati, lost both his mother and father within a year. His mom, Ann, died after emergency brain surgery at age 42. Soon after, his father, Mose, died of cancer, leaving the family in the hands of his 29-year-old sister, Terry. The tragedies threatened to destroy the Austin family -- a brother, Tommy, went to prison for five years for assault and battery, and Tim dropped out of high school -- but like many inner-city kids, Austin found his salvation in a boxing gym. He and Springs met there six years ago and have been close friends since.