Boxer Thomas decides to wait to turn pro
Hopes for another chance at 2012 Olympic team
Semajay Thomas (blue) at the U.S. Championships. (AP / Jack Dempsey / December 16, 2013)
That is what I noted in my Tuesday entry on Globetrotting. At that time, just after he was disqualified from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials for failing to make weight before a semifinal match, the Chicago light welterweight had told me, "I guess I'm going to turn professional now."
"I'm an American, so I'm not going to hope that our boxer doesn't do it at the world meet,'' his coach, Nate Jones, said Tuesday. "But Semajay should stay prepared. He shouldn't turn pro until the worlds end."
Thomas, 18, appararently has come to that conclusion after watching more action in the 141 class, which he had won at June's U.S. Championships.
I replied to Thursday's text message by asking, ``So you will wait to see what happens at worlds?"
His reply: "Yea."
Thomas had said Monday that he didn't want to continue in the Olympic trials after feeling he was cheated in a 20-18 loss to Pedro Sosa in the quarterfinals of the double-elimination tournament.
"He just gave up after that," Jones said. "I begged him to get the weight off (Monday) night, but he didn't want to do it. He thought everything was rigged against him. I told him, `I can't make you fight, but you don't know what you are losing.'"
Jones said Thomas reacted to the frustration of the defeat by eating too much Monday, then decided early Tuesday morning he wanted to try to make weight. By then, Jones said, Thomas was 10 pounds overweight. He was still three pounds heavy at the 8 a.m weigh-in.
His thoughts about turning pro were born out of emotion. His decision to wait is clearly one that owes to calm reason. Such reactions are to have been expected from a teenager who has fought back from what he did, only to feel, rationally or not, that the judging at the trials was rigged against him.
After all, this is a young man who was falsely accused of murder and spent 15 months in juvenile detention before a jury acquitted him, allowing him to resume a boxing career Thomas hoped would have the Olympics as a hallmark before he turned pro.
Thomas may always be haunted by the thought of "what if I hadn't eaten myself out of the trials?" But he can at least avoid the question of "what if I had given it another try?" by waiting to see whether he still has a shot at the Olympics.