Memphis has been selected to host the U.S. Team Olympic Trials for Women’s Boxing. Fighters who win that trial round will move on to compete in the Olympics. At the same time, Memphis will also host the final qualifying tournament for U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Men’s Boxing. In that tournament, male boxers compete to make the cut for the U.S. Team Olympic Trials for Men, which will be held elsewhere. In other words, Memphis is the final step for women before the Olympics and the second to last step for men.
Both events will run from October 25th through the 31st at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
At a press conference at The Rendezvous on Thursday, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) President and CEO Kevin Kane said the process to land the event in Memphis began a couple years ago with a letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee to Mayor A C Wharton. The letter asked if Memphis would be interested in hosting the Olympics. Kane said many major cities received such a letter, and he and Wharton put a committee together to determine how Memphis could play a part.
“We knew realistically that Memphis cannot host the Olympics, but we wanted to see how Memphis could at least participate,” Kane said.
Several cities bid on the boxing trials, but Memphis won the bid. Brandon Dyett, director of events for USA Boxing, said Memphis was a natural fit.
“They brought us out here, and we absolutely fell in love with the city. It has the history, the culture,” Dyett said.
Dyett pointed out that this will only be the second women’s team trials in history since the female sport was only introduced to the Olympics in 2012. As such, it will also be the first time in U.S. boxing history that a returning Olympic medalist competes in the Olympic Trials. Both Claressa Shields (2012 Olympic gold medalist) and Marlen Esparza (2012 bronze medalist) will compete in the Memphis trials.
Prize Fight Boxing, the group that helped Memphis land the 2002 Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis boxing match at the Pyramid, is teaming up with the CVB to help host the Olympic trials.
“We look forward to seeing these world-class athletes compete and their hopes and dreams become a reality on their road to Rio,” said Prize Fight Boxing’s CFO Russ Young.
The CVB anticipates the event will have a $1.7 million economic impact on the city.