The USA’s top 2016 Olympic hopeful at heavyweight is doing double duty in Reno, Nev., this week.
He will be participating in the U.S. men’s Olympic Boxing Trials there all week, hoping to gain a spot on the U.S. squad for the Rio Olympics.
And while he waited for competition to begin, did three standup comedy shows over the weekend at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino’s Laugh Factory comedy club.
Few could do one, let alone both.
Cam F. Awesome handles it all with seeming ease, killing it on both platforms.
Awesome, 26, a four-time U.S. Amateur and three-time Golden Gloves champion, is looking to win his second consecutive Olympic Trials. He won at super heavyweight in 2012, but did not qualify internationally, which every Trials winner must do before actually qualifying for the Olympics.
He was suspended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for missing mandatory drug tests and not being up to date on his paperwork. He was fighting internationally during that time but failed to inform USADA of his whereabouts three times during an 18-month span. He never had a positive drug test.
Awesome, from Lenexa, Kan., begins his 2016 quest on Monday against Adrian Taylor in the winner’s bracket.
Since 2012, the fighter once known as Lenroy Thompson legally changed his name to Cam F. Awesome (“the F. stands for whatever you want it to be in your imagination”), became a vegan, and dropped more than 50 pounds. He qualified for the trials at both super heavyweight and heavyweight but is fighting in the heavyweight division.
Boxing Junkie caught up with Awesome last month during the black-tie Fight Night Charity event at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The charity raised millions for underprivileged children.
“The reason this charity means so much to me is because without the Inner City programs, I would have never been introduced to boxing. That’s how I got involved,” said Awesome, who initially took up the sport to lose weight. “I’ve gotten to see the world through boxing. In 2014 I went to 12 countries, got to be on an airplane for the first time through boxing, and it’s done so many things for me. So, this event means a lot.”
Awesome said his dynamic personality is due to confidence and belief in himself, which came partly from losing weight. “I speak to kids in different cities now and tell them to believe in themselves,” he said. “So I cannot be a hypocrite and not believe in myself 100%. And I do. When I lose, I’m more confused than upset because I truly do believe I should win. And I believe I will get a gold medal in 2016. Yeah, I’m going to get a medal in 2016.”
Awesome said it’s time for the U.S. men to end an 11-year gold medal drought. Andre Ward, who will attend the trials this week along with welterweight champion Terence Crawford, was the last U.S. male to win gold, in Athens in 2004. The last American male to medal was current WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, who won bronze in Beijing in 2008. Claressa Shields won gold at middleweight in the debut of women’s Olympic boxing in London, and Marlen Esparza won bronze.
“Claressa (Shields) is an animal. She’s a gorgeous girl, she’s sweet, but as soon as those gloves go on, she’s a killer,” Awesome said. “The girls brought medals to the U.S. in 2012, but the men haven’t been following. I’m hoping in 2016, myself and nine other boxers in different weight classes will bring some medals in.”
Awesome said he has gotten all his mistakes out during previous trials.
“I lost in my first Olympic Trials (in 2008). I think I finished fourth,” he said. “I won the last one (2012) but was not able to go to the Olympics because of a technicality. Now, I believe I have the experience and maturity, the skill and the looks, and the charisma and the charm to win with ease and actually go to the Olympics this time.
“I just need to be myself and enjoy it like I always do. Everyone else puts pressure on themselves and I do really well when there’s no pressure and I don’t feel any pressure. I’m just going to enjoy myself and maintain my weight because that’s new for me.”