By Greg Heakes
LAS VEGAS, May , 2011 (AFP) – Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach hopes to give American medal hopes a strong boost by helping train US Olympic boxing prospects ahead of the 2012 London Games.
Roach announced Saturday that he is teaming up with the US Olympic Committee and USA Boxing to identify Olympic boxers and allow them to train at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
“The atmosphere at my gym is unbelievable,” said Roach. “It is a great place for people who want to work hard. I got Amir Khan in there. I got Manny Pacquiao in there and they are great role models for kids to work under.”
Roach, who has been named trainer of the year a record five times, has been in the corner of 17 world champions in his 20 years as a trainer.
He is expected to begin working with the Olympic prospects later this month at the USA Boxing’s training centre in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I can’t wait to get started,” Roach said. “I am in the gym 12 hours a day. That is where I live. I will make time for these guys.”
Roach is in Las Vegas this week with his prize pupil Manny Pacquiao for the Filipino’s WBO welterweight title fight against American Shane Mosley.
Roach, the son of Canadian parents who grew up in Massachusetts, said he got thinking about helping out the US national team after being approached in the Philippines to help train their national team.
“The Philippine team asked me if I could help out and we are excited about that but I am an American and I want to see America do well,” Roach said. “I want to help the Olympic team get back in form and get some gold medals for America.”
The United States has won more Olympic boxing medals than any other nation but they struggled to win just one bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“When Sugar Ray Leonard and those guys won gold medals it used to be a great ticket into the pro system. Right now without winning any gold medals it is a little embarrassing for America and we got to change that,” said Roach.
When Roach was 16-year-old he made the USA Olympic team as an alternate and took part in a tournament ahead of the 1976 Montreal Games.
“I had a chance to experience the Olympics in 1976,” Roach said. “We got to fight in the Olympic venue.
“I know the game well. Sometimes in the Olympic style boxing you get a lead and want to protect it. I think we can make more complete fighters. If they are winning by 10 points I want them winning by 20.”
The London Games are the first to include women’s boxing and Roach will also work with the female prospects at his Wild Card gym.
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