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Boxing at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games:

Men's Bantamweight

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Alexander Memorial Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Started: July 20, 1996
Date Finished: August 3, 1996
Format: Single elimination tournament.

Gold: HUN István Kovács
Silver: CUB Arnaldo Mesa
Bronze: RUS Raimkul Malakhbekov
THA Khadpo Vichai

Summary

Hungary's István Kovács had been the favourite for the flyweight title in Barcelona but had suffered a disappointing loss in the semi-finals. In the following years his form dipped noticeably as he moved in weight to the bantamweight division and there were rumours that he had forsaken training for partying. At the beginning of 1996 everything seemed to click back into place for the Hungarian and in April he won the European Championships, his first major title since before the 1992 Games. Kovács made serene progress through the tournament and reached the final without ever being but under strong pressure. The same could be said of his two greatest rivals up until the semi-final stage but Raimkul Malakhbekov, the world champion from Russia and Cuban veteran Arnaldo Mesa were then involved in a ferocious battle for the other place in the final which was only resolved in a victory for Cuban on count back after a 14-14 tie. Mesa had not been due to compete in this weight category but the defection of reigning Olympic champion Joël Casamayor to the United States caused Cuba to restructure their team.

The first round of the final was a tepid affair with the Hungarian cautiously edging into a small lead but the second round was very different and proved to be a tour de force for Kovács as he picked off the onrushing Mesa seemingly at will and cruised into a seven point lead that could not be pegged back. He became the first Hungarian to win an Olympic boxing gold since the Munich Games of 1972.

Kovács resisted the temptation to turn professional straight away in order to contest the 1997 World Championships which were to be held in Budapest. After duly winning that title he stepped into the professional ranks and went on a run of 19 successive victories which included a victory in a fight for the European title. In his 20th fight he won the vacant WBO world title but his reign as Hungary's first professional world title holder was brief as he lost the title on his first defence to fellow Atlanta medallist Pablo Chacón.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 István Kovács 25 Hungary HUN Gold
2 Arnaldo Mesa 28 Cuba CUB Silver
3T Raimkul Malakhbekov 21 Russia RUS Bronze
3T Khadpo Vichai 28 Thailand THA Bronze
5 Rachid Bouaita 21 France FRA
6 Tseyen-Oidovyn Davaatseren 25 Mongolia MGL
7 Hicham Nafil 21 Morocco MAR
8 Crinu Raicu-Olteanu 22 Romania ROU
9T Gabriel Križan 20 Slovakia SVK
9T Zahir Raheem 19 United States USA
9T Bae Gi-Ung 22 South Korea KOR
9T Abdel Aziz Boulehia 25 Algeria ALG
9T Johnny Nolasco 20 Dominican Republic DOM
9T Carlos Barreto 19 Venezuela VEN
9T Kalai Riadh 27 Tunisia TUN
9T Khurshed Khasanov 22 Tajikistan TJK
17T Bektas Abubakirov 23 Kazakhstan KAZ
17T Hoe Jong-Jil 23 North Korea PRK
17T John Hamed Larbi 19 Sweden SWE
17T Virgilio Vicera 22 Philippines PHI
17T Joseph Chongo 31 Zambia ZAM
17T José Cotto 19 Puerto Rico PUR
17T Agathangelos Tsiripidis 33 Greece GRE
17T Steve Naraina 29 Mauritius MRI
17T Marcos Vernal 22 Colombia COL
17T Claude Lambert 27 Canada CAN
17T Aleksandar Khristov 31 Bulgaria BUL
17T Samuel Álvarez 22 Mexico MEX
17T James Swan 22 Australia AUS
17T Kehinde Aweda 21 Nigeria NGR
17T Soner Karagöz 24 Turkey TUR