Five U.S. boxers qualify for Olympics at Pan American Games
Five U.S. boxers qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
On Wednesday, Jajaira Gonzalez became the first U.S. boxer to make the Olympic team, eight months after initially missing a spot on the national high performance team.
On Thursday, Jennifer Lozano, Morelle McCane, Jahmal Harvey and Joshua Edwards qualified to join her on the team.
Gonzalez, 26, won her first two bouts at Pan Ams to reach the semifinals and clinch an Olympic berth.
She did so in the 60kg division after Rashida Ellis, the Tokyo Olympian and 2022 World champion at the weight, was replaced on the national team due to disciplinary reasons earlier this year.
Gonzalez began 2023 in the 57kg division, but ranked behind Alyssa Mendoza at that weight after a March tournament.
“I feel like I was given a second chance, and I can’t mess this up,” Gonzalez said before Pan Ams, according to an as-told-to piece by USA Boxing.
Gonzalez won junior-level world titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015, then in the 2016 Olympic Trials lost the deciding bout of a best-of-three finals series to Mikaela Mayer.
She stopped competing in 2018, citing mental health.
“During this time, since I wasn’t boxing or really training, I gained 35 pounds and was kind of depressed,” she said, according to USA Boxing. “I genuinely wasn’t happy and just wasn’t mentally there. But then in 2021, I started to get back into it. I was going to therapy and talking to friends about what was going on. I moved back to California with my parents and started training again.”
All five boxers who qualified at Pan Ams are going to their first Olympics.
Lozano, 20, was born in the border city of Laredo, Texas, and has dedicated wins to her mother, a single mom, and grandmother, who died in 2019 after drug cartel violence broke out outside her home in Mexico.
McCane, 28, was the Tokyo Olympic Trials runner-up at 75kg. She made this Olympic team at 66kg.
Harvey, 20, made the team at 57kg, two years after winning a world title at the weight.
Edwards, 23, made his first global championship team in the +92kg super heavyweight division.
U.S. boxers at other weights can still qualify for the Olympics via global tournaments in 2024.
U.S. boxers won four medals at the Tokyo Games, the country’s most since 2000. All of the medalists turned pro.