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Vinson Gets Win, Visit From Ali

September 16, 2000

Clarence Vinson became the first U.S. boxer to win at the Olympics, and the victory was sweetened when he was congratulated by Muhammad Ali.

"It was like a dream come true," the 22-year-old Vinson said about his meeting with Ali following a 9-2 victory over Rachid Bouaita of France at 119 pounds today in the Sydney Exhibition Center.

Ali, the former three-time heavyweight champion and 1960 Olympic gold medalist, is visiting the Sydney Games during a business tour of Australia. Ali lighted the Olympic flame at the Atlanta Games four years ago.

The 5-foot-2 Vinson, of Washington, fell behind 2-1 in the first round against his 5-7 opponent, then took control by applying constant pressure.

"The guy was real tall and I felt as though I had a better chance on the inside than on the outside," Vinson said.

Vinson took a 3-2 lead over the 1996 Olympian after two rounds, then increased his lead over the next two rounds by landing several rights hands and a couple of good left hooks.

Vinson was the only American to box on the day card.

"I was the only soldier going and I had to be victorious," Vinson said.

"I think this is going to give the other guys confidence," said Tom Mustin, coach of the U.S. team.

Dante Craig of Cincinnati was the only U.S. boxer scheduled to fight tonight. He was to box Fadel Showban of Egypt at 147 pounds.

Puerto Rican Orlando Cruz rallied from a 10-8 deficit by scoring with a left, then a right in the fourth round, but lost, 11-10, when Hichem Blida of Algeria landed a left in the closing seconds of their 119-pound bout.

In the first bout of the tournament, Alisher Rahimov of Uzbekistan beat Cho Suk-hwan of South Korea when the referee stopped it at the end of the third round on the 15-point rule. Alisher led, 17-1, with the 16th and 17th points being scored just before the bell.

Raimkoul Malakhbekov of Russia, a bronze medalist at the 1996 Olympics, also advanced at 119 pounds. Malakhbekov landed a three-punch combination late in the third round to make the score 17-2 and beat Ceferino Labarda on the 15-point rule.

In the first 147-pound bout Roberto Guerra of Cuba landed numerous right hands for an 18-4 decision over Ellis Chibuye of Zambia.

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