Formula One? For amateur boxers, Baku is all about Rio

Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:51am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

BAKU (Reuters) - Formula One has taken over the city streets but for Cuban Olympic boxing champion Robeisy Ramirez, being in Baku is all about the road to Rio.

Azerbaijan's first grand prix may have got all the attention but, away from the fenced-off track and the television cameras, hundreds of amateur boxers from around the world are also in town and fighting to qualify for the Olympics.

Ramirez, flyweight gold medalist at London 2012, is among 469 boxers from 105 nations hoping that the tournament will open the door to Brazil.

For most, it is the last chance.

"It's a strong tournament. I've got to do what I've always done," the 22-year-old, now fighting at bantamweight, told Reuters as he wiped away the sweat after beating Finnish teenager Arslan Khataev 3-0 in his opening bout.

"It's the way it is and I have to succeed."

Those placed in the top five in the flyweight, bantamweight, lightweight, light-welterweight, welterweight, middleweight and light-heavyweight categories in Baku will be sure of going to Brazil.

Light flyweight finalists and the heavyweight and super-heavy champions also qualify in the event that runs to June 25 with 39 places up for grabs.   Continued...

Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba in action against Arslan Khataev of Finland.  Karim de la Plaine/AIBA/Handout via REUTERS