The flyweight category was one of the first weight classes to be contested when boxing made its debut at the 1904 Olympic Games in St Louis. With only two athletes competing for that title, it wasn’t until 1920 that the flyweights would return in number to the Olympic competition, held in the auditorium of Antwerp Zoo, Germany.
Of the sixteen boxers registered this time around, it was the deceptively slight figure of American Frankie Genaro who took the gold by beating Denmark’s Anders Pedersen in the final, two days before his 19th birthday. Four years later, it was the turn of another American to win Olympic flyweight gold, as New York-born Fidel LaBarba beat Britain’s James McKenzie to the title in Paris before going on to beat his rival Genaro during a highly successful post-Games career.
European boxers then established their supremacy by winning seven of the next ten Olympic flyweight gold medals, but it would be the USA’s Leo Randolph who captured the crowd’s imagination in Montreal in 1976, becoming the youngest man to win the title. A graduate of the famous Tacoma Boys Club gym, Randolph was just eighteen when he edged past Cuba’s Pan-American Games champion Ramon Duvalon in what was a breathtaking finale.
Twenty years later, the Cubans would return even stronger, however, and in Atlanta USA, Maikro Romero became the first of three flyweights from the island to win gold in just five editions of the Games, thanks to a nail-biting victory over Kazakhstan’s two-time Olympic runner-up Bulat Jumadilov.
(*) Photo: Frankie Genaro // © Getty Images