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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | BOXING

Wolfgram Victory Means First Medal for a Tongan

August 01, 1996|TIM KAWAKAMI

ATLANTA — In a grueling, fascinating, late-night super-heavyweight special attraction Wednesday, two monsters met to get to the medal round, and 300-pound Paea Wolfgram of Tonga survived to become the first Tongan Olympic medalist.

Towering Alexis Rubalcaba of Cuba, considered that country's next great star, kept throwing huge overhand rights but Wolfgram kept dodging them and put together enough heavy combinations to win, 17-12.

"The secret was composure, composure, composure," Wolfgram said late Wednesday. "I knew he was a very strong fighter and that he would keep coming."

Wolfgram, who said he received a fax from the king of Tonga earlier Wednesday, shocked Rubalcaba early, smacking him with a left that dazed him and drew a standing-eight count, then drawing another eight-count with a quick combination.

Rubalcaba stabilized, throwing long scoring blows to take an 8-6 lead in the second, but gave it up when Wolfgram kept the pressure on into the third round.

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