Olympian Ward signs pro deal

Gold medalist chooses Prince to manage career


September 03, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward said last night that he has signed a professional contract with James Prince for an unspecified bonus at the manager's home in Houston.

Ward, a deeply religious 20-year-old from Oakland Calif., defeated Magomed Aripgadjiev of Belarus, 20-13, in their light heavyweight bout in Athens last weekend.

Ward had been in Houston since Monday with Prince.

Last night's meeting lasted an hour before Ward signed, "but the decision was made a long time ago," said the fighter, whom Prince said he has been pursuing "for about three years."

"James is the best in the business, hands down, so why not go with the best in the business?" said Ward, who will begin his pro career as a middleweight (160 pounds).

"I would love to be a heavyweight, because that's where the money is, but I'm really a middleweight. Therefore, I'm going to scale down and try to make 160, the glamour division where you had Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins."

Ward has drawn comparisons to former Olympic bronze medalist and ex-world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield because of his religious faith and humility.

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