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23 AUGUST 2014

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U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha out to finish what he started


Photo: USA Boxing
Photo: USA Boxing

By José Santana Jr.

 

It is not in the character of Terrell Gausha to give up, take shortcuts – quit. But a little over a year ago, that is the impression some may have had of him. The middleweight amateur boxer from Cleveland, Ohio, went from 2009 National Champion to fairly non-existent.

 

Gausha (guh-SHAY) reached a point where he was no longer competing in national amateur events and his weight reached as high as 200 pounds.

 

An opportunity arose for him to compete in the World Series of Boxing – a boxing league under the International Amateur Boxing Association comprised of teams from around the world which allows fighters to keep their amateur status. Gausha accepted and was selected to the Memphis, Tenn., franchise Memphis Force.

 

He was competing, fighting some of the best boxers from around the world, but something still seemed to be missing. The commitment level appeared to be down. He spent 2010 and 2011 competing in the WSB but outside of the USA Boxing (the U.S.’s national amateur boxing organization) national radar.

 

Soon the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team Trials came and went in the summer of 2011 without an appearance from Gausha. Other top fighters such as Jesse Hart and Edgar Alvarado passed him up in the rankings. Hart won the trials and the middleweight slot to compete at the 2011 World Championships where a top 10 finish would land him in the Olympics.

 

“I fell short, got overweight a little bit, just little things like that,” Gausha said about his time from the 2009 National Championships through 2011. “But my daughter definitely pushed me to go out there and follow my dreams.”

 

Another big motivation was his mother, Teretha Jones.

 

“She taught me what hard work is about,” Gausha said. “She took care of me my whole life.”

 

Boxing for the 24-year-old Gausha began around the age of 11. A friend of his took him to his first gym at the Glenville Recreation Center on Cleveland’s east side. “I saw fights on TV but I never knew where the gyms were at,” Gausha said. When he saw the small boxing room in the back of the center, he signed up and never looked back.

 

Gausha quickly developed a style fitting to his personality. He’s like a dog in the ring – and the cheers of his fans echo the sound of a bark during his fights.

 

“I like to work on the body because that’s where you test the fighters conditioning,” Gausha commented about his style. “Most people can take head shots but they don’t condition to take body shots.”

 

He doesn’t have a one-track style, though. As he recently showed in international tournaments, he’s learned to switch things up if need be.

 

“Every fighter is different. You’ve got to be able to make adjustments,” Gausha said.

 

He makes sure to get practice sparring and working in the gym using both pressure and finesse styles in order to be prepared for whatever comes his way. But if there’s any semblance of the doggish style that lives within him, it’s the way in which he saw a big opportunity and went reaching for it head on.


Hart did not qualify for the 2012 London Olympics at the World Championships, and the 165-pound slot was back up for grabs. It was truly now or never for Gausha.

 

“People don’t know that I’m strong in faith, but when Jesse Hart got the spot (at the Olympic Trials) I felt like he could of … I didn’t know whether he would qualify or not,” Gausha said pensively. “I thought he would go out there and maybe he would qualify, so if he did maybe I would just go pro. When I found out he didn’t, I said this is my chance right here and I knew that I had to make it work.”

 

Despite the recess from national competition, Gausha always still held onto some hope.

 

“I couldn’t give up my dreams,” he said. “I’m not a quitter.”

 

Like many, Gausha always had the dream of making the Olympics, and the skill level to do so – he’s always had that too. “My mom always told me to finish what I started; if you’re going to do something, do it all the way, don’t half-step,” Gausha said.

 

Certain changes had to be made, however. Gausha made a series of them. 

 

“I stopped eating red meat – just chicken and fish; running two, three times a day, training twice a day sometimes, just putting everything into the gym, putting everything into my workouts,” Gausha said.

 

Dieting habits weren’t the only changes Gausha made. He began to isolate himself. He moved west to California.

 

“I got away from my friends, away from my family, I went to California and went to a real training camp,” Gausha said.

 

 

He went to train with WSB franchise LA Matadors head coach Manny Robles. The two had good chemistry in 2011 when Gausha fought for the Matadors, and Robles left the door open for him to come back and work together.

 

Gausha would have to earn the re-opened middleweight slot at the 2012 USA National Championships, which would give him the right to compete in the America’s Qualifier in Rio de Janeiro to earn his entry into the Olympics.

 

In an impressive showing, he defeated six fighters in seven days, including both Alvarado and Hart. Not long after, he earned his Olympic berth in Brazil en-route to a gold medal winning performance at the America’s Qualifier. Gausha punched his ticket to London.

 

“After I got my second chance, I put everything I had into it and I came out on top,” Gausha said. “There wasn’t a plan B; I just had to make it work.”

 

He has gone from being out of the Olympic picture – in fact, not even attempting to join it – to being the U.S.’s middleweight representative.

 

It’s hard to doubt someone who not only shows such determination, but goes out and achieves. Gausha has reached the final leg, and with only one prize in mind, and a resilient attitude, what he’s learned from the struggle to get the trip started, may be just what he needs to help him finish.

 

Follow José Santana Jr. on twitter or email him at jsantana09@sbcglobal.net

 

July 18, 2012



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