Boxing at the 1988 Summer Olympics

Dates 17 September – 2 October 1988
Medal Events 12

The 1988 Olympic boxing tournament was held at the Jam-Sil Hak-Saeng, or the Jamshil Students’ Gymnasium, which held 7,500 spectators and had been built in 1972-76, specifically with an Olympic site in mind. For the fifth consecutive Olympics, there was an Olympic boycott of some sort in 1988, although only six nations did not compete, in support of North Korea. But this greatly affected the 1988 boxing events, as Cuba was one of the boycotting nations, making this the second consecutive Olympics at which the Cuban boxers, by now the best amateur boxers in the world, did not appear. As in 1984, there were 12 Olympic boxing events at the Seoul Olympics.

When competition started the sport immediately found itself deep in a web of disarray. Firstly the two ring system caused a host of problems when fighters and referees were confused as to which system, bell or buzzer, was active in their bout. One fight even had to be replayed when a fighter was knocked down by his opponent while mistakenly believing the round had ended.

More serious were the events that occurred at the end of the featherweight clash between Aleksandar Khristov of Bulgaria and home favorite Byeon Jeong-Il. The Bulgarian’s points victory was only possible due to the deduction of 2 points from the Korean’s total by the referee for alleged head butts. When the result was announced pandemonium broke out in the arena and referee Keith Walker of New Zealand was attacked by members of the Korean coaching team. Spectators and even security guards weighed in in support of the local hero and Walker had to be protected from harm by a cordon of his fellow officials as objects, including a chair, were hurled at him.

In Cuba’s absence the medal list was led by the United States, with eight medals and three gold medals, with South Korea and East Germany also winning two events, and South Korea and the Soviet Union winning four medals. The super-heavyweight final featured two future world professional champions, with Lennox Lewis, a Brit who fought for Canada, defeating American Riddick Bowe, with Lewis winning by TKO (known as RSC = referee stops contest in amateur boxing) at 0:43 of the second round.

The most controversial bout occurred in the final of the light-middleweight class when Korean Park Si-Heon was literally “given” the gold medal over American Roy Jones, Jr,. Jones pummelled Park throughout the three rounds, and had almost three times as many punches landed (86-32). Considered possibly the worst decision in Olympic boxing history, in 1997 it was revealed that many of the Seoul boxing judges had been given bribes. Other stories also came out, in which some of the judges for the bout stated that they felt sorry for Park and awarded him their vote so he would not be embarrassed by a unanimous decision. Whatever the reason, Park was given a 3-2 decision, which was never rescinded. Jones would be given the Val Barker Trophy as the best boxer of the 1988 Olympics, in retribution, and would later become one of the greatest professionals ever, winning multiple world titles.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Light-Flyweight (≤48 kilograms), Men Olympic 17 September – 1 October 1988 34 34
Flyweight (≤51 kilograms), Men Olympic 18 September – 2 October 1988 44 44
Bantamweight (≤54 kilograms), Men Olympic 17 September – 1 October 1988 48 48
Featherweight (≤57 kilograms), Men Olympic 18 September – 2 October 1988 48 48
Lightweight (≤60 kilograms), Men Olympic 19 September – 1 October 1988 39 39
Light-Welterweight (≤63.5 kilograms), Men Olympic 19 September – 2 October 1988 45 45
Welterweight (≤67 kilograms), Men Olympic 20 September – 1 October 1988 44 44
Light-Middleweight (≤71 kilograms), Men Olympic 20 September – 2 October 1988 36 36
Middleweight (≤75 kilograms), Men Olympic 19 September – 1 October 1988 33 33
Light-Heavyweight (≤81 kilograms), Men Olympic 21 September – 2 October 1988 26 26
Heavyweight (≤91 kilograms), Men Olympic 22 September – 1 October 1988 18 18
Super-Heavyweight (>91 kilograms), Men Olympic 22 September – 2 October 1988 17 17
432 (432/0) 106 (106/0)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Light-Flyweight, Men Ivaylo KhristovBUL Michael CarbajalUSA Róbert Isaszegi
Leopoldo Serantes
HUN
PHI
Flyweight, Men Kim Gwang-SeonKOR Andreas TewsGDR Timofei Scriabin
Mario González
URS
MEX
Bantamweight, Men Kennedy McKinneyUSA Aleksandar KhristovBUL Jorge Julio
Phajol Moolsan
COL
THA
Featherweight, Men Giovanni ParisiITA Daniel DumitrescuROU Abdel Hak Achik
Lee Jae-Hyeok
MAR
KOR
Lightweight, Men Andreas ZülowGDR George CramneSWE Romallis Ellis
Nergüin Enkhbat
USA
MGL
Light-Welterweight, Men Vyacheslav YanovskyURS Grahame CheneyAUS Lars Myrberg
Reiner Gies
SWE
FRG
Welterweight, Men Robert WangilaKEN Laurent BoudouaniFRA Jan Dydak
Kenny Gould
POL
USA
Light-Middleweight, Men Park Si-HeonKOR Roy Jones, Jr.USA Richie Woodhall
Ray Downey
GBR
CAN
Middleweight, Men Henry MaskeGDR Egerton MarcusCAN Chris Sande
Syed Hussain Shah
KEN
PAK
Light-Heavyweight, Men Andrew MaynardUSA Nurmagomed ShanavazovURS Damir Škaro
Henryk Petrich
YUG
POL
Heavyweight, Men Ray MercerUSA Baek Hyeon-ManKOR Andrzej Gołota
Arnold Vanderlijde
POL
NED
Super-Heavyweight, Men Lennox LewisCAN Riddick BoweUSA Alex Miroshnichenko
Janusz Zarenkiewicz
URS
POL

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 3 3 2 8
Republic of Korea KOR 2 1 1 4
East Germany GDR 2 1 0 3
Soviet Union URS 1 1 2 4
Canada CAN 1 1 1 3
Bulgaria BUL 1 1 0 2
Kenya KEN 1 0 1 2
Italy ITA 1 0 0 1
Sweden SWE 0 1 1 2
Australia AUS 0 1 0 1
France FRA 0 1 0 1
Romania ROU 0 1 0 1
Poland POL 0 0 4 4
Colombia COL 0 0 1 1
Great Britain GBR 0 0 1 1
Hungary HUN 0 0 1 1
Mexico MEX 0 0 1 1
Mongolia MGL 0 0 1 1
Morocco MAR 0 0 1 1
Netherlands NED 0 0 1 1
Pakistan PAK 0 0 1 1
Philippines PHI 0 0 1 1
Thailand THA 0 0 1 1
West Germany FRG 0 0 1 1
Yugoslavia YUG 0 0 1 1