A clutch of brilliant performances at the start of the year has seen United States’ talented 18 year old bantamweight Shakur Stevenson named the first AIBA Athlete of the Month for 2016.
Born in 1997, Stevenson first became interested in boxing at the age of just five and at fifteen he won silver at the US Junior Olympiad, beginning a remarkable trajectory that saw him take his first international title at the 2013 AIBA Junior World Championships in Kiev and follow it with the World Youth title a year later in Bulgaria.
Far from feeling the pressure, going in to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games as favourite merely spurred Stevenson on to an even more impressive run of performances that ended in gold after a comprehensive victory in the final against China’s Lu Ping.
With his sights set on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Stevenson again delivered at the US National Olympic Trials, beating rival Ruben Villa at the third attempt, taking the competiton’s Best Boxer trophy and earning the right to join the USA Knockouts team for Season VI of World Series of Boxing. A tough debut against British Lionhearts’ Peter McGrail saw the American register yet another superb win, a result he then repeated in Week 6 against Morocco Atlas Lions’ Mohamed Hammout, underlining both his importance to the team and his Olympic credentials.
“Winning this award feels really good. It means a lot knowing that I did what I had to do in January and February right before these American Olympic Qualification Event in Argentina, that’s a major confidence boost. Right now, my focus is on qualifying for Rio and doing whatever it takes to get that done because I know it won’t be easy. I plan on not only qualifying but winning this tournament. I have enjoyed the World Series of Boxing a lot more than I had expected to and it is great walking out to the ring to my own music, but the whole experience was great,” said Shakur Stevenson after winning AIBA Boxer of the Month.