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Why Obelmejias? It could be only coincidence, but his manager, Rafito Cedeino, a promoter and a big man in Venezuelan boxing circles, numbers among his good friends Rodrigo Sanchez, who happens to be president of the WBA. What are friends for?
GOLD MEDALS, TROY-WEIGHT
Until its boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980, the U.S. had the distinction of being the only country in the world whose athletes had won gold medals in every summer Olympics since the start of the modern Games in 1896. Now the longest such "streaks" belong to Great Britain, France, Italy, Sweden and Finland, each of which can claim to have had gold-medal winners at every Summer Games since 1908, and USC, which has had at least one champion at every Olympics since 1912. Wait, did we say USC? What's a university doing in the company of all those nations? And how can an American institution claim a gold medal in a succession of Olympic Games that includes one that was boycotted by Americans?
The answers are provided by Andrew Strenk, a USC alumnus and nonmedalist member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic swim team. Now a lecturer in USC's history department whose specialties include the relationship between sports and international politics, Strenk says that at least 160 Trojans have competed over the years in the Summer Olympics, amassing 61 gold, 27 silver and 19 bronze medals. According to Strenk, the parade of USC Olympic champions began at the 1912 Games in Stockholm, where Fred Kelly, a USC freshman, won the 110-meter hurdles, and Alma Richards, a law student, won the high jump. The list of Trojan gold medalists since then includes such memorable victors as sprinters Charley Paddock (1920), Mel Patton (1948) and Don Quarrie (1976), shotputter Parry O'Brien (1952, 1956), pole vaulter Bob Seagren (1968) and swimmers Buster Crabbe (1932), Murray Rose (1956, 1960) and John Naber (1976).
Strenk's only criterion for inclusion in the roster of Trojan Olympians is that the athlete must have attended USC for at least one semester. Of USC's medal winners, he says, "Some transferred in and others transferred out. Some won their medals after they graduated, others before they came here and some while they were in graduate school." Strenk includes foreigners like Quarrie and Rose, natives of Jamaica and Australia, respectively. Which brings us to swimmer Michele Ford, who, as a 17-year-old schoolgirl, competed at the 1980 Olympics for her native Australia and won the 800-meter freestyle. Ford subsequently enrolled at USC, where she's now going into her sophomore year as a member of the Trojans' women's swim team. Thus it is that USC can lay claim to having a 1980 Olympic champion, even though the U.S. did not compete at Moscow.
Although USC has several potential 1984 Olympians, including swimmers Jeff Float, Chris Cavanaugh and Ford, volleyball star Debby Green and hurdlers Milan Stewart and Tonie Campbell, none can be considered a sure bet for a gold medal. But don't count the Trojans out. USC's dormitories will be used as an Olympic village in 1984 and its home facilities as venues for Olympic track and swimming, all of which should provide quite a home-field edge to USC athletes trying to keep the school's remarkable Olympic streak going.
BRAINS, BRAWN AND BRUINS
SO MUCH FOR CAREER COUNSELING
Former NHL star Dennis Hull, brother of Bobby, played most of his 14-year career (1964-78) with the Black Hawks and returned to Chicago last month for what turned out to be a fateful visit. After having taught history and coached football and hockey for the past two years at Ridley College, an Ontario prep school, Hull, 37, had decided he was ready for "something different" and had made an appointment to undergo career counseling at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. But no sooner did he meet Dr. Jotham Friedland, director of IIT's Institute of Psychological Services, than the counseling took an unexpected turn. Friedland also happened to be a member of a committee searching for a successor to Edward Glancy, who is retiring after 11 years as IIT's athletic director. It quickly occurred to him that this might be just the man for the job. He took Hull around to meet other committee members, who agreed, and four days later Dennis was hired.