Chattanooga's Smith to lead USA women's boxing
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Wearing the Red, White and Blue on the world stage is nothing new for Chattanooga's Joe Smith, but the local boxing guru is especially excited for his latest opportunity to work for Team USA Boxing.
The local boxing coach and youth mentor has been named team manager for the U.S. Women's Boxing team in its first-ever international Olympic qualifier next month.
"It's different. It's exciting, and quite candidly, it's an honor," said Smith, who was the team manager for Team USA in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. "This is the first-ever women's Olympic boxing team, so getting to be a part of that is exciting."
Smith will be in charge of ten athletes and all support staff starting next week for seven days of training at the national team headquarters in Colorado Springs. He'll then lead the group into the Americas qualifier in Montreal, Canada, where 20 countries will be represented.
"My role will be the voice of the entire team. I'll make sure they get to media appearances, network with them and their families and coaches back home," Smith said. "In short, I'll be their daddy for a few days."
Women's boxing will make its Olympic debut in London in 2012.
Smith has worked locally with Sequatchie County High's Emily Dagnan, who won a national championship earlier this month and hopes to make the Olympic team in 2016, and is familiar with most of the women on his traveling roster.
He feels privileged to play a role in helping grow the sport across new boundaries.
"It's amazing to think that when the sport of women's boxing was first introduced, it was such a circus and a novelty to everybody," Smith said. "But what people began to see was that these female athletes are very talented and can do the very same thing the men can do. "Maybe they're not as strong physically, but when they're competing against females within their age, weight and division, it's a beautiful sport."
"The reality is that the sport of boxing isn't what it used to be, so we believe female boxing is creating some new energy for our sport. It's a new support area and fan base that's really creating some new excitement for a sport that's been on the decline in recent years."
Smith will depart for Colorado Springs this Sunday after helping host the 76th annual Chattanooga Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament. The longest-running sporting event in the Scenic City will feature fighters from six states across 20 bouts, starting at 7 p.m. ET at the Chattanooga Convention Center.