Welterweight Delante Johnson gears up for Pan-Am Games

RINGSIDE 19/07/2019
USA Boxing

Boxing medal collector Delante “Tiger” Johnson has been so busy placing at tournaments that he’ll soon need an extension on his home to accommodate his overflowing display case.

The Cleveland welterweight has 8 national and 9 international medals. He has captured gold at the 2014 Junior Olympics, 2015 Youth National Championships, 2016 & 2017 Elite National Championships and 2017 Eastern Elite Qualifier, as well as top honors internationally at the 2016 Youth World Championships, 2017 USA vs. Netherlands, Ireland and Germany, and most recently at the 2019 Pan American Qualifier in Nicaragua.

At the 2019 Pan Am Qualifier, Johnson defeated Dominican Republic opponent Rohan Polanco, by walkover, to qualify for the prestigious 2019 Pan American Games, which commences July 27 in Lima, Peru.

Despite all of his medals, Johnson remains hungry going into the Pan Am Games with, of course, one eye on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

His greatest accomplishment, so far, is winning the Youth World Championship because, as he says, “I was an underdog. Nobody expected me to win and I had a lot to prove.”

That he did and his participation in the Pan Am Games is extra special for this gifted 20-year-old. “It’s important because I’m the first boxer from my city to go the Pan Am Games, which is a big tournament,” Johnson remarked. “I’ll be disciplined and focused only on the Pan Am Games. I’ve trained hard for it, physically and mentally to be prepared.

“I really want to become the fourth boxer from Cleveland to participate in the Olympics. The others have been Raynell Williams (2008), Terrell Gausha (2012) and Charles Conwell, Jr. (2016).”

Born with the nickname “Tiger” because of a birthmark that his father thought looked like a tiger, Jones has had more than 100 amateur bouts to date and counting. He started boxing at the age of seven, largely due to an increasing number of fights he was in at school. His father got him into boxing, and he hasn’t looked back.

“At first, he explained, “I didn’t like boxing, because the coach was really mean. There were a lot of experienced kids in the gym and I was the new kid. I’m a fast learner but it took a while to get used to the coach and older kids. I did very well in my first sparring session and just kept going.”

Being a Team USA member has allowed Johnson to travel across the country and around the world to places like Germany, Russia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Kazakhstan, Ireland and Netherlands. “I like to travel,” he noted, “but I just don’t like the plane rides.”

Now, as he prepares to compete in a critical tournament as the first Cleveland boxer in the Pan Am Games, he rates as one of the favorites, along with Cuban veteran Roniel Iglesias, who didn’t compete in the recent Pan Am Qualifier finals due to a hand injury.

“Tiger” Johnson is uncaged and winning routinely!