The 1960s and 1970s was a golden era for Polish lightweight boxers as the team won three out of four Olympic gold medals, but it was from neighbouring Ukraine that one of Olympic boxing’s true greats originally hailed. Vasyl Lomachenko arrived on the world stage in 2007, winning featherweight silver at the AIBA World Championships in Chicago. A year later in Beijing, Lomachenko was crowned Olympic champion, first avenging his opponent from the Chicago final, Albert Selimov, before going on to drop just six points in his last four bouts as he blew away the competition on route to both gold and the Outstanding Boxer award.
After making the switch to lightweight and winning the 2011 AIBA World title, the Ukrainian was once again in a league of his own during London 2012, defeating Yasniel Toledo of Cuba in the semis before a comprehensive 19-9 final win over Korea’s Han Soon-chul. Lomachenko finished his career with 396 wins and just the one defeat to Albert Selimov back in 2007, which he avenged twice.
While his teammate Rigondeaux was winning back-to-back titles at bantamweight, Mario Kindelan managed to do likewise at lightweight, earning the 2000 and 2004 golds during an incredible streak that also saw successive Pan-American and AIBA World Championship titles.
However, it was several years before Kindelan’s supremacy at the Barcelona 1992 Games that another lightweight legend was born. Mexican-American Oscar De La Hoya’s preparations were hit when he learned that his mother was terminally ill, but the news simply convinced him that he needed to win the Olympic gold medal in her honour. A big opening victory against Mexico’s Julio Gonzalez set him on the way, and with a win in the final over Germany’s Marco Rudolph, De La Hoya would earn the nickname The Golden Boy, a moniker that stuck with him as he became one of the highest-earning boxers of all time.