Rucker resumes dream as a pro Former Olympic hopeful makes debut tonight

October 29, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Two years ago, Dana Rucker was on top of the amateur boxing world after winning a gold medal in the 1995 Olympic Festival.

"At that point, Dana was the best amateur in the country," recalled Dave Lubs, director of events at the Olympic Education Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., "There is no question in my mind he would have been on our 1996 Olympic boxing team. We were heartbroken when he didn't stay in the program."

No one is quite certain what happened in the next few months to prompt Rucker, a two-time national Golden Gloves champion, to end his Olympic dream.

Lubs suspects he was wary of sustaining an injury. Olympic coach Al Mitchell, who groomed Rucker and awarded him a boxing scholarship to Northern Michigan University, suggests he was a victim of burnout.

Rucker will make his professional debut at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie in a preliminary bout tonight, refuses to lTC dwell on the past or the financial opportunities he might have missed by not competing in the Atlanta Olympic Games.

"What I did at the time, I believed was necessary and best for me," he said. "It doesn't need second-guessing. You can't turn back the clock.

"I could dwell on what might have been or pick up the pieces and start marching forward. That's what I prefer doing."

A converted kick-boxer, Rucker has spent the past 10 months under the tutelage of Alvin Anderson, a junior-middleweight contender in the late 1960s.

"I'm teaching him to fight like a pro," said Anderson.

"As an amateur, he was taught to throw a couple of head punches and move away. That's how their scoring system works. But in the pros, you've got to be able to throw body punches and put three or four punches together."

At 26, Rucker will have to mature quickly as a professional to become financially sound.

Rucker realizes he has already overcome major obstacles. At 16, he enrolled in Anthony Goh's Kung-fu school on Harford Road. He became good enough in the martial arts to represent the school in an international tournament in Beijing, finishing fifth.

Looking to improve his hand skills, Rucker worked with ring instructor Billy Richardson, and soon decided he had a brighter future as a boxer.

In 1993, after only a handful of amateur bouts, he won two all-comers tournaments to gain his scholarship to Northern Michigan.

"Now I've just got to give it my all. If you've got skills and work as hard as you can, nothing can stop you from succeeding."

Pub Date: 10/29/97

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