A Guide To Boxers Who Have Represented The Virgin Islands At The Olympics
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands’ best athletes are working hard to make it to next year’s Olympics in Japan. One man who stands a good chance to qualify is boxer Deion Pruitt, who was once trained by St. Thomas native and former boxing world champion Julian Jackson. Should Pruitt, a light heavyweight, make it to Japan next year, he will be the 10th boxer from the Virgin Islands to make it to the Olympics. The first nine were as follows:
Two sons of the aforementioned Jackson represented the Virgin Islands in the 2008 Olympics. Julius, a light heavyweight, made it to the round of 32, where he lost to Ireland’s Kenneth Egan. Julius turned pro in 2009 and is still active, with a record of 20-2 (16 KOs).
Like Julius, John is the son of the legendary Julian Jackson. He represented the Virgin Islands in the 2008 Olympics as a welterweight. John made it to the round of 16, where he lost to South Korea’s Kim Jung-Joo.
Garcia is the only two-time Olympian on this list. He first competed at the 1992 Olympics as a lightweight, but bowed out in round one. In 1996, he again represented the Virgin Islands, this time as a light welterweight. He drew a round one bye, then lost in round two.
Brown competed in the 1992 Olympics as a middleweight. He won his first bout, but lost his round two match to eventual gold medalist Ariel Hernández from Cuba.
Charleswell represented the Virgin Islands in the 1984 Olympics in the light welterweight division. He got a bye in round one, but was beaten by Germany’s David Griffiths in round two.
Garcia was one of two boxers from the Virgin Islands who competed at the 1976 Olympics. He fought as a welterweight, and lost in round one to South Korea’s Kim Ju-Seok.
Liburd was the other boxer who represented the Virgin Islands in the 1976 Olympics. He competed as a light middleweight, and made it to round two. He lost to Cuba’s Rolando Garbey, who won the bronze medal.
Peets competed for the Virgin Islands at the 1972 Olympics as a middleweight. After a round one bye, he lost in round two to Denmark’s Poul Knudsen.
Laurent Clayton Jr.
Clayton Jr. represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 2016 Olympics as a super heavyweight. He beat Germany’s Erik Pfeifer in round one then lost in round two to eventual gold winner Tony Yoka from France. ESPN revealed that Clayton Jr. went pro last year, and has since signed with Lou DiBella. The renowned promoter hopes to give Clayton Jr. “an opportunity to become the first heavyweight champion from the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Olympic boxing: an honor and a springboard
Aside from the honor of representing one’s country, competing in the Olympics can also be a springboard for a successful professional boxing career. There are, in fact, a handful of former Olympians who have become world champions. These include Roy Jones Jr. (won silver in the 1988 Olympics) Vasyl Lomachenko (gold in 2008 and 2012), and Gennady Golovkin (silver in 2004).
The Virgin Islands’ Clayton Jr. looks capable of doing the same, and he can look to England’s Anthony Joshua for inspiration. A Coral guide to British world champions details how Anthony Joshua won the Olympic gold medal in 2012. Joshua then went from being an Olympic gold medalist in the super heavyweight division to heavyweight champion inside five years. He won his first title, the IBF belt, in April 2016 then a year later added the WBA title, and finally the WBO in 2018. Joshua’s are big shoes to follow, but Clayton Jr. has the talent to do so.
However, it will likely take him a bit longer to win a title, especially after his shock defeat to German Garcia last March (similar to Joshua’s shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr). Clayton Jr. will need to regroup, and he will have the entire U.S. Virgin Islands supporting him as he looks to become world champion.