USA Boxing national director of coaching Campbell steps down

Updated: September 5, 2008, 10:13 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Less that two weeks after leading the U.S. Olympic boxing team to its worst performance ever at the Beijing Games, national director of coaching Dan Campbell retired on Friday, according to USA Boxing.

Campbell, 65, had been in his position since August 2005. He was also head coach and chief cornerman for the U.S. Olympic boxing team, whose performance in Beijing resulted in just one medal -- a bronze by heavyweight Deontay Wilder, the squad's least experienced fighter. He won two bouts before losing a lopsided match to Italy's Clemente Russo in the semifinals.

Campbell didn't view it as a retirement. He said he was asked to step down, according to the New York Daily News, which quoted him as saying, "They didn't want me in the job to begin with. And they let me know all along that if the team didn't do well, then I was out."

The U.S. medal count matched that of the 1948 squad, but that team's one medal was a silver.

"Dan is a dedicated professional who has been totally committed to our U.S. national team and its international performance," USA Boxing CEO Jim Millman said in a statement. "We are extremely grateful to Dan for his service and his passion for amateur boxing, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

"We all share the disappointment of our team's performance in China, and look forward to establishing a fresh start for our coaching program in advance of London."

Controversy surrounded the team almost from Day 1. Campbell and his boxers clashed over training methods and his insistence that the team train exclusively at the U.S. Olympic compound in Colorado Springs for virtually the entire year before the Games began.

Several fighters on the team were outspoken about his refusal to accept input from their regular coaches and were unhappy with travel restrictions placed on the team.

One fighter, light flyweight Luis Yanez, left the team for an unexcused visit with his family weeks before the Olympics and was kicked off the team before being allowed back on the team. Yanez's problems with Campbell spilled over into his Olympic fight as he blatantly ignored his instructions during his second-round defeat.

Under Campbell, the U.S. failed to qualify a full squad of fighters and went to Beijing with just nine boxers because. It didn't qualify a light heavyweight or super heavyweight.

Once the team arrived in Beijing, bantamweight Gary Russell Jr., a serious medal candidate, was scratched before his first bout for not making the 119-pound limit.

The rest of the American fighters began dropping one by one, including reigning amateur world champions Demetrius Andrade, the welterweight, and Rau'shee Warren, the flyweight gold medal favorite who lost in large part because of poor communication with the corner over the score of his bout.

Campbell blamed several of the American losses on the controversial amateur scoring system.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.