Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Alexander Memorial Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Started: July 23, 1996
Date Finished: August 4, 1996
Format: Single elimination tournament.
|Bronze:|| Duncan Dokiwari
The death of 1992 Olympic champion Roberto Balado had left a gaping hole at the top of the super-heavyweight division that even the fabled production line of Cuban heavyweights had failed to fill. The man favoured to follow Balado as Olympic champion was a Russian, Aleksey Lyozin, who won the gold medal at the 1995 World Championships. The silver medallist at that championship, Vitali Klychko of the Ukraine, was not to compete at Atlanta as he was kicked out of the Ukrainian national team after failing a drug test. His replacement in the national team was his younger brother Volodymyr who took full advantage of his unexpected opportunity. Volodymyr Klychko defeated home favourite Lawrence Clay-Bey in his opening fight, demolished Swede Attila Levin, then upset Lyozin to reach the final where he was to face the most surprising finalist of the entire tournament. Paea Wolfgramm of Tonga was Oceanian champion and had won a medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games but these honours were won against weak opposition and few thought that he would survive past his first bout in Atlanta. He won his first fight against future professional world champion Sergey Dukhovich then pulled off one of the great upsets in Olympic boxing by outpointing Cuba’s Alexis Rubalcaba. Wolfgramm produced another upset win in the semi-final to ensure that his nation’s first Olympic medal would either be gold or silver.
For a brief period in the final it seemed as though the impossible was about to happen as the Tongan kept pace with Klychko but the fitness level of the Ukrainian began to tell and he pulled away in the final round to record the victory. After the fight it was revealed that Wolfgramm had suffered a fractured wrist in his previous bout.
Throughout Tonga there were mass celebrations in honour of their first Olympic medallist and the King declared a national holiday for the day of Wolfgramm’s return home. He later had a career in professional boxing though he met with only modest success.
In contrast, Volodymyr Klychko won the WBO world professional heavyweight title in 2000 and held it for 2½ years before losing it to Corrie Sanders. He won the IBF title in 2006 and has since added the WBA and WBO titles to his collection in a reign that stretched through 2013. He is generally accepted as the leading heavyweight of the 21st century. The only other legimate claimaint to that honour may well be his brother, Vitali, who has also held a version of the world title for a large part of the decade.
|9T||Lawrence Clay-Bey||30||United States||USA|
|17T||Mohamed Reza Samadi||25||Iran||IRI|
|17T||Petr Horáček||22||Czech Republic||CZE|