Moscow ‘80 a great Olympic, despite the boycott

02 August 2020 News

by Franco Falcinelli

Today, August 2, 40 years have passed since the finals of the Olympic tournament “Moscow ‘80”.

I consider it a duty to pay tribute to all the participants and I still applaud all those who have won a prestigious Olympic medal.

1980 was the year of the 22nd Olympic and the city of Moscow, at that time the capital of the USSR, hosted the Olympic Games, for the first time assigned to Eastern Europe.

The invasion of Afghanistan, at an international political level, triggered a series of spites that also involved sport to the point that American President Jimmy Carter put in place the most sensational retaliation, declaring that the United States would boycott the Moscow games and inviting all friendly countries to do the same.

A very complicated situation that worsened when China, after leaving the IOC at the Melbourne Games of ’56, seemed willing to return, but, not accepting the presence of Taiwan, thought better of it and did not go to Moscow.

The president of the IOC, Lord Killanin, has unsuccessfully contacted the governments of the United States and the USSR to resolve the dispute. Each has maintained its position and 65 nations have abandoned the Games in Moscow, while 81 countries were present.

The boxing tournament was very spectacular, but the great champions of Cuba, USSR, GDR, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia missed the confrontation with the American boxers who had won in Montreal 5 titles against the three Cubans. The absence of American boxers also justifies the sensational rise of the Cubans who have conquered the record of 10 Olympic medals of which:

6 gold (bantamweight: J. Hernandez, lightweight: A. Herrera, welterweight: A. Aldama, light middleweight: A. Martinez, middleweight: J Gomez, heavyweight: T. Stevenson)

2 silver (light flyweight: H. Ramos, featherweight: A. Horta)

2 bronze (light welterweight: J. Aguilar – light heavyweight: R. Rojas).

Šamil’ Sabirov

The Soviets with 7 finalists managed to conquer the highest podium only with the light flyweight S. Sabirov, the only one capable to beat the Cuban Ramos in the final.

When I claim that the Moscow Games were exemplary from the ethical point of view and from the correctness of the technical results, I refer to my personal experience. I participated in 10 Olympics as a Head Coach and Manager, but I have always recorded unfair and often favorable verdicts for the boxers of the host country, while in Moscow this did not happen.

The flyweight V. Miroshnischenko, the lightweight V. Demianenko, the light welterweight Serik Konakbaev, the light middleweight A. Koshkin, the middleweight V. Savchenko and the heavyweight P. Zaev deservedly won the silver medal, while the featherweight V. Rybakov stopped at the bronze medal.

In addition to the two major teams of the Boxing Tournament, Cuba and the USSR, 4 other European boxers managed to win gold: the Bulgarian Petar Lesov in the flyweight, the GDR Rudi Fink in the featherweight, the Italian Patrizio Oliva – who won the “Val Barker Cup” as the best boxer in the Olympic Tournament – in the light welterweight, the Yugoslav Slobodan Kacar in the light heavyweight.

After Cuba and the USSR, it was East Germany, the GDR, that won the most medals. In addition to the gold of Rudi Fink in the featherweight, bronze for R. Nowakowski in the lightweight, for K. Kruger in the welter, for D. Kastner in the light middleweight, for H. Bauch in the light heavy and J. Fanghanel in the heavyweight.

Five medals went to Poland. The light heavyweight P. Skrzecz won a silver medal, while the featherweight K. Kosedowski, the lightweight K. Adach, the welterweight K. Szczerba and the middleweight J Rybicki won the bronze.

Bulgaria hit gold with Petar Lesov, while I. Moustafov was overtaken in the semifinal by Cuban Ramos.

The European boxers went up to the podium again with two excellent Hungarians, the flyweight J. Varadi and the heavyweight I. Levai, both raised bronze medals.

Romania also brought home two bronze medals with the bantamweight D. Cipere and the middleweight V. Silaghi who severely engaged the Cuban champion Gomez.

Great Britain won a bronze medal with the light welter A. Willis, while Czechoslovakia reached the podium with the good light middleweight J. Franek who was stopped in the semifinal by Cuban Martinez.

The picture of the results highlights that, in the absence of the USA, the overwhelming power of Europe, with the blockade of the Eastern countries and Cuba, left very little space for the rest of the world.

Only North Korea with the lightfly Lee Byong-Uk (Asia), Guyana who placed the bantamweight M. Anthony in third place and Uganda who won the silver medal with the strong welterweight J. Mugabi represented South America and Africa on the podium.

The organization of the Olympic tournament was flawless. From 10 December 1979, when V.G. Smirnov has sent the circular no. 26 to all the NOCs, the Soviet organizational machine arrived on July 18 for the “official weigh-in and medical examination” without creating any difficulty for the participating teams.

From 20 July, when the tournament began with the bout between the bantamweight Mutale (ZAM) vs Zangare (MAI), to 2 August with the last bout between Teofilo Stevenson (CUB) vs P. Zaev (USSR) was an unforgettable demonstration of functional organizational capacity and the beautiful Indoor Stadium of Olympiski Sport Complex was always crowded with a very generous audience with all the boxers, both winners and losers.

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