Yanez to fight removal from U.S. Olympic boxing team

Updated: July 2, 2008, 9:30 PM ET
Associated Press

Light flyweight Luis Yanez fired back at U.S. boxing coach Dan Campbell on Wednesday night, claiming the coach's decision to kick him off the Beijing Olympic team was a hasty, harsh response to a long-stewing conflict.

Yanez and his personal coach, Dennis Rodarte, also criticized Campbell's teaching methods, conditioning practices and communication skills in a lengthy interview with The Associated Press after a training session in Yanez's hometown gym in the Dallas area.

Yanez was kicked off the U.S. team on Monday after he skipped three weeks of workouts in Colorado Springs during June without telling the coaching staff where he was, Campbell said. The 106-pound boxer will fight his removal, requesting an appeal hearing for early next week and retaining a lawyer in hopes of being reinstated to the team.

"Dan and I have different personalities, and we've been bumping heads," the 19-year-old Yanez said. "It's just constant threats. I'm under pressure all the time. ... I'm loyal to my coaches and loyal to my family, but I'm also loyal to my team. I just want to get this behind us and get back to work on winning a gold medal."

Campbell said the U.S. coaching staff couldn't reach Yanez for most of June despite repeatedly ordering his return to training camp. Yanez, who says he has been fined $6,000 in stipends over the last six weeks, claims he didn't hear from the coaching staff until mid-June after trading phone messages with USA Boxing.

In an interview with the AP on Tuesday, Campbell accused Yanez of misleading the U.S. coaches during his absence, calling Yanez "one of the biggest liars I've ever met."

"I gave him every opportunity, and if people knew all the stuff that he has done, they would be amazed," Campbell said. "When it was time for him to return home, we didn't hear from him. He didn't answer his phone. He missed the time to leave for the mandatory camp. We kept sending him messages, and he just didn't show up."

Yanez, who also missed a training trip to Argentina during his absence, later said he stayed in Texas to support his sister while she underwent medical treatment.

Rodarte acknowledged Yanez made a mistake by not reporting to U.S. Olympic Training Center immediately after Campbell demanded his return within 24 hours, but Rodarte believes the mistake wasn't big enough to warrant crushing Yanez's Olympic dreams.

"It's always been confrontational, and I've never liked dealing with [Campbell]," Rodarte said. "I told Luis from the get-go, 'You've just got to suck it up, just get through this. Don't worry about Dan. You've just got to stay positive.' It's easy for me to say that when I'm not taking the abuse and when I'm hearing all this stuff from the other fighters as well."

Despite their vicious disagreements, Yanez said he would still be willing to fight in Beijing with Campbell in his corner if he's allowed back on the team for the Olympics.

"I don't hear him anyway," Yanez said. "I'm just staying positive. I'm the team captain. I'm going out there to help my team. Where's Dan going to be after this?"

Yanez has retained lawyer Domingo Garcia to represent him in front of USA Boxing's disciplinary committee. If that hearing fails, Montoya said Yanez will request an outside arbitration hearing, which is his right under USOC policy.

Campbell and USA Boxing CEO Jim Millman didn't return requests for comment. USA Boxing spokesperson Julie Goldsticker said the organization wouldn't comment on the situation before Yanez's appeal hearing, which probably will be held Monday.

Yanez is a two-time U.S. champion who won a gold medal at last year's Pan-Am Games, but his conflicts with Campbell began even before that successful trip to Rio de Janeiro. Rodarte said he kept Yanez out of a training camp before that tournament because he didn't think Campbell's methods helped Yanez.

Yanez and light welterweight Javier Molina are among several fighters who have criticized Campbell's decision to keep the Olympic boxers in a residency program in Colorado Springs for the last year. Bantamweight Gary Russell Jr. compared the program to a prison sentence, and several fighters openly pined for more attention from the personal coaches who turned them into Olympians.

Campbell was a veteran amateur coach in the Virginia Beach area and an avid student of the international amateur style before getting appointed to USA Boxing's top coaching job. He has instituted revolutionary conditioning programs for the American fighters, focusing on more strength training and sprinting than in traditional boxing workouts.

Without Yanez, the U.S. would send just eight boxers to the Olympics -- the smallest team since the 1948 London Games. Americans have won 111 medals in Olympic competition, more than twice as many as second-place Cuba, but the U.S. has just one gold medal in the last two Olympics.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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