Ireland at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

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Paul Fitzgerald was the only Irish boxer to win two bouts at the 1984 LA Olympics. The Arklow man hammered out a unanimous decision (5-0) over Sudanese featherweight Tobi Pelly before earning a split decision (3-2) over Canada’s Steve Pagendam to reach the last-16 where he dropped a split decision to Uganda’s Charles Lubulwa, who was beaten in the following round.

Cork’s Kieran Joyce made an explosive start on his Olympic debut on the U.S. West Coast. The Sunnyside BC fighter, boxing in the welterweight division, stopped Basil Boniface of the Seychelles in the second round of his opening bout on August 1st of that year, but then lost 4-1 to Finland’s Joni Nyman – who claimed bronze after beating Dwight Frazier of Jamaica in the quarter finals. In 2014, Joyce was presented with the Cork Boxer of the century Award.

Gerry Hawkins and Phil Sutcliffe, both appearing in their second successive Games, bowed out in the preliminaries to Italian opponents, both of whom then finished among the medals.
Hawkins lost to Salvator Todisco, who was beaten by Paul Gonzalez of the USA in the light-flyweight final, and Sutcliffe was eliminated by eventual winner Maurizio Stecca in the bantamweight class.

Stecca, who beat Hector Lopez of Mexico in the final, eventually turned professional and secured the vacant WBO featherweight title in 1991, a belt he successfully defended twice. It was the second Olympics in-a-row in which Sutcliffe lost against an opponent who would go on to win three World titles in the pro ranks.

Sam Storey, a silver medalist at the Commonwealth Games, was in against Italian light middleweight Romolo Casamonica in his opening bout. Storey was well on top in the opening two rounds, but then, exhausted, was stopped the final frame, Casamonica went out to gold medal winner Frank Tate of the USA in the next phase.

Meanwhile, Tommy Corr, a bronze medal winner for Ireland at the 1982 AIBA World Championships in Munich, earned an impressive unanimous decision over Zimbabwe’s Arigoma Mayero in his opening contest in LA, but then lost to Jeremiah Okorodudu of Nigeria. Okorodudu went out to eventual gold medalist, Joon Sup Shin of Korea, in the next phase.

The USA took full advantage of the USSR’s and Cuba’s boycott of the 1984 Games to deliver nine gold medals and finish on top of the medals podium at the Memorial Sports Arena.

The LA Games saw the introduction of a twelfth weight category (super-heavyweight). Likewise, Tyrrell Biggs of the USA became the first ever Olympic champion in this weight class following his win over Italy’s Francesco Damiani.

Henry Tillman, who had beaten a young Mike Tyson in the Olympic trials for the USA heavyweight vest, also won gold, while Evander Holyfield won silver.

Korea lost a number of quarter-finals on disputed decisions in LA. The lingering resentment at those results appears to have been a factor in one of the most scandalous verdicts in the history of the sport in Seoul four years later, Roy Jones’s loss to Park Si-hun, a decision which almost cost boxing its Olympic status and led to the alteration of the scoring system for Barcelona 1992.

John Treacy, the current CEO of the Irish Sports Council, won silver in the marathon at the LA Games in a time of 2:09:56.

Also in Los Angeles, the wearing of head guards in boxing was made mandatory for the first time.

Light Flyweight: Gerry Hawkins (Holy Trinity)
Lost to Salvatore Todisco (Italy) 5-0

Bantamweight: Phil Sutcliffe (Drimnagh)
Lost to eventual gold medalist Maurizio Stecca (Italy) 0-5

Featherweight: Paul Fitzgerald (Arklow)
Beat Tobi Pelly (Sudan) 5-0
Beat Steve Pagendam (Canada) 3-2
Lost to Charles Lubulwa (Uganda) 2-3

Welterweight: Kieran Joyce (Sunnyside)
Beat Basil Boniface (Seychelles) TKO1
Lost to eventual bronze medalist Joni Nyman (Finland) 1-4

Light Middleweight: Sam Storey (Holy Family)
Lost to Romolo Casamonica (Italy) TKO3

Middleweight: Tommy Corr (Clonoe)
Beat Arigoma Mayero (Zimbabwe) 5-0
Lost to Jeremiah Okorodudu (Nigeria) 1-4

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]