With the Olympics now over I wanted to put a list together of boxers who won gold at the Olympics Games and went onto become world champions in the professional ranks.
This list is mainly based on notable names with a few surprises thrown in too!You can either watch or read on to see the full list of champions.
1. Floyd Patterson – 1952 Helsinki
It’s crazy to think how Floyd Patterson went from competing at middleweight and light heavyweight before winning a world title at heavyweight. Patterson would win the vacant World Heavyweight Championship with a fifth-round KO of Archie Moore in 1956.
Patterson also became the youngest ever World Heavyweight Champion at 21 years, 10 months and 26 days. His record was surpassed by Mike Tyson, who won the WBC Heavyweight Championship at 20 years. Interesting fact, Patterson and Tyson both had the same trainer of Cus D’amato.
2. Muhammad Ali – 1960 Rome
Known as Cassius Clay at the time, Ali won gold in Rome in the light heavyweight division. Thus finishing on a high with an amateur record of 100 wins with five losses.
Ali, would then turn professional that year where he moved up to heavyweight and really started to make a name for himself due to his charisma and character. The greatest would then get his chance against Sonny Liston in 1964 to become heavyweight world champion. He would once again defeat him in the rematch.
Ali would then go onto have one of the greatest careers at Heavyweight with victories over some of the most iconic fellow Olympic Gold medallists George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Floyd Paterson who are also on this list.
3. Joe Frazier – 1964 Tokyo
Another true legend of the sport is of course “Smokin” Joe Frazier, who won Olympic gold four years after Ali did at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
Turning pro, Frazier emerged as top contender in the heavyweight division in the 1960s before becoming heavyweight champion against Jimmy Ellis in 1970. He would soon after face against Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden, where it was labeled Fight of the Century: in which he won. Frazier would the face the up and coming George Foreman where he would lose his titles and not win a world title again.
4. George Foreman – 1968 Mexico City
Nicknamed “Big George”, in his boxing career, he had a 16-4 record going into the Olympics in Mexico. Foreman maintains to this day winning Olympic gold was the achievement he was most proud of.
Despite this, being his greatest moment in his eyes, Forman had a tremendous professional career. Many forget how deadly he was in the ring before winning the WBA, WBC and Ring heavyweight title against Joe Frazier.
He would go onto face Muhammad Ali in their classic encounter in Zaire where he would lose the titles to Ali in 1974. Foreman would then have three more attempts to win a world title, losing to Evander Holyfield in 1991, Tommy Morrison in 1993, before finally becoming two time and oldest heavyweight champion by beating Michael Moorer by KO.
5. ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard – 1976 Montreal
‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard is a true legend of the sport and of course his status as one of the ‘Four Kings’ or ‘Fabulous Four’ (Duran, Hagler and Hearns). He is also the only one of them to win an Olympic medal while also defeating all four in the professional ranks.
After winning the olympics in 76, Leonard would then take few years before getting his world title shot. In 1979, Leonard would win his first world title in the welterweight division against the talent Wilfred Benitez. Leonard would then win world titles in five weight divisions; the lineal championship in three weight divisions
6. Michael Spinks – 1976 Montreal
Winning gold alongside Ray Leonard at the Montreal Olympics at Middleweight. Michael Spinks looked to have a very promising career. Ahead of him. Once turning professional, Spinks competed in the light heavyweight division where he won his first world title in 1981.
After dominating the division, Spinks would move up to face heavyweight champion Larry Holmes who he defeated twice. Spinks would later face a young 20 year old Mike Tyson, who would go onto dominate the heavyweight division in his prime. This would also be Spinks last professional fight and only defeat of his fantastic career.
7. Leon Spinks – 1976 Montreal
The older brother of Michael is of course Leon Spinks. He also won Olympic gold at Montreal alongside his brother winning gold in the light heavyweight division.
Leon didn’t have as good a career as brother Michael, however after just 8 fights he would get his chance against an ageing Muhammed Ali. Here, Spinks would win his first and only world heavyweight titles. However, Ali did get his revenge winning their rematch.
Spinks would then go on to have a mixed career, but I guess by beating ‘The Greatest’ at your first world title shot is not a bad thing!
8. Pernell Whitaker – 1984 Los Angeles
Another gold medalist from the 1984 Los Angeles Games was of course “Sweat Pea”. Pernell Whitaker was known for his southpaw stance, tremendous defensive skills and counter punching skills.
Having failed at his first attempt to become world champion in 1988, he would soon bounce back in 1989 winning the IBF lightweight title. Whitaker’s career took off from there as he became a four-weight world champion, having won titles at lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, and light middleweight. He was also undisputed at lightweight and held lineal lightweight and welterweight titles.
9. Mark Breland – 1984 Los Angeles
Breland in more recent years is known for being the former trainer of Deontay Wilder, who threw in the towel during his bout with Tyson Fury. Wilder sacked and then accused the Olympic Gold medallist of spiking his water which is just ridiculous!
It’s a shame because Breland had a very successful professional career after winning gold at the 1984 Olympics. Having been a two time welterweight champion, his first came in 1987 and then again in 1989, where he made three successful title defenses before losing it to Aaron Davis.
10. Meldrick Taylor – Los Angeles 1984
Taylor won the gold in his home country at the 1984 Los Angeles Games as he competed at Featherweight. That year he would go onto turn professional and would go onto have a very successful career becoming a two weight world champion.
Winning the IBF light welterweight title in 1988 against McGirt and then the WBA welterweight title against Aaron Davis. He also had some classic fights against Julio César Chávez where he would lose twice to the Mexican. I recommend you watch the first fight which is classic.
11. Oscar De La Hoya – Barcelona 1992
Back in the 90s Oscar took back gold from the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Known as the Golden Boy soon after where he quickly started to become the face of boxing at the time.
De la Hoya, know for his brilliant boxer puncher fighting style, won his first world title in 1994 for the WBO junior lightweight title. He then went onto winning 11 world titles in six weight classes, including the lineal championship in three weight classes.
He know currently a promoter, but is set to make a return to ring against a former UFC fighter Belfort.
12. Wladimir Klitschko – Atlanta 1996
After winning Gold at the Atlanta games in the super-heavyweight division, big things were expected of Wladimir Klitschko in the world of boxing! That same year after winning gold, the Ukrainian would turn professional and start his illustrious career.
After a fairly straight forward career with only one defeat, Klitschko would go on to win the WBO heavyweight title against Chris Byrd. However, after two defeats a few years later to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. Klitschko would hire the services of legendary trainer Emanuel Steward to get him back to the top.
It was in this time The Ukrainian managed to win the IBF world title against Chris Byrd again, before going on to unify the heavyweight titles. Klitschko also amassed records for the longest heavyweight title reign of all time, with 4,382 days as world heavyweight champion, and most fighters beaten for the world heavyweight championship, at 23. He also holds records for the most wins and title defenses of the unified championship.
13. Guillermo Rigondeux – 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens
Nicknamed ‘El Chacal’ or ‘The Jackal’, Rigondeux is a dual Olympic Gold medalist and regarded as one of the most decorated in amateur boxing with a record of 475 fights and 12 losses.
After Rigondeaux’s defection in 2009, he turned professional and remained undefeated for almost nine years. He is a two-weight world champion, having held the WBA bantamweight title since 2020, and previously the unified WBA, WBO, and Ring magazine super-bantamweight titles between 2013 and 2017. He also challenged once for the WBO super-featherweight title in 2017.
14. Yurorkis Gamboa – Athens 2004
The Cuban who most recently fought up and coming lightweight stars Gervonta Davis and Devin Haney won the Gold at Flyweight in 2004 Olympics in Athens. Gamboa had very decorated amateur career and was known for his blistering speed which brought into the pros.
When turning professional he unified the featherweight world titles, having held the WBA and IBF titles between 2009 and 2011. He did move up to lightweight to challenge Terrence Crawford for the WBO lightweight title in 2014, but was unsuccessful.
15. Andre Ward – Athens 2004
The American has a fantastic amateur and professional career winning multiple titles at all levels. He fought in two weight categories at super middleweight and light heavyweight. Picking up and retiring with an impressive boxing record of 32 wins and 16 KOs.
Ward defeated the likes of former world champions Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Chad Dawson and Arthur Abraham throughout his career. The olympic gold medallist finally decided to hang up his gloves in 2017 after retaining his world title belts against much feared Sergey Kovalev in their light heavyweight rematch.
16. Jame Degale – Beijing 2008
Chunky as he was known in his pro career, James Degale is maybe a boxer some forget about as he won Gold at middleweight at the Beijing Olympics.
Degale turned professional, competing in the super middleweight division where he would quickly rise up the ranks winning the British and European titles. Degale would eventually get his world title shot against talented American Andre Direll, where he won the IBF Super middleweight title.
17. Vasyl Lomachenko – Beijing 2008 and London 2012
Lomachenko’s amateur career is regarded as one of the best ever with an incredible record of 396 wins and only 1 defeat, a loss he would go onto avenge twice. The Ukrainian truly was unstoppable at amateur level picking up seven golds and one silver (see further below) in major tournaments, including 2 Olympic golds at Beijing and London.
He would then turn professional with Top Rank and quickly aim to become world champion in his first professional fight. This wasn’t to be, but made an impressive debut at featherweight in 2013. For his second professional fight he would get that chance against veteran Orlando Salido, however lost in a controversial split decision.
However, this would not stop Loma as he would go on to dominate every boxer he’s come up against since. First he won the WBO featherweight title in his next fight against the highly rated Gary Russel Jr becoming a world champion in three fights. He would become the fastest to win a world title in three weight divisions.
18. Anthony Joshua – London 2012
After winning Gold in his home nation Olympics at London 2012, Joshua was destined for stardom as he signed with Matchroom boxing. After a quick rise in the heavyweight ranks Joshua picked up his first world title against Charles Martin in 2017, before unifying the titles the WBA (Super) and IBO heavyweight titles against Kiltschko and then soon after the WBO against Joseph parker.
He did lose his titles against Andy Ruiz, but soon after became 2 x world champion after defeating him in the rematch. Many underrate Joshua and his rise to the top, I recommend you check out fight style analysis on him here.
19. Oleksandr Usyk – London 2012
Usyk amassed an incredible amateur record of 335-15. It’s no wonder he has gone on to become one of the most talented boxers in the sport to date. Starting his amateur career at Middleweight, as Usyk grew up into his body he slowly became a solid amateur Heavyweight. Most notably Usyk won gold medals at the world championships in 2011 and the, London 2012 Olympics.
The Ukrainian would then go on to compete in the cruiserweight division, winning his first world title against Glowacki in 2016. He would then Enter the World Boxing Super Series where he eventually became the first cruiserweight in history to hold all four major world championships and first man to lift the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
20. Katie Taylor – London 2012
Soft spoken Irish star, Katie Taylor, became an Irish hero at London 2012 winning gold. She was part of the first women who were allowed to competitively box for the first time at the Olympics. In her Amateur Career she won a total of 18 golds through various amateur competitions making her Ireland most decorated boxers with a record 173 victories, 12 losses and one draw.
Taylor then turned pro a few years after the Olympics, signing with Eddie Hearn from Matchroom, where she won her first world title in the Joshua vs Takam undercard. Since then she has gone on to become the undisputed champion in the lightweight division making her one best ever boxer form Ireland.
21. Claressa shields – London 2012 and Rio 2016
Another double gold olympic champion like lomachenko, is Clarissa Sheilds who has truly impressed since turning professional in womens boxing. After turning pro shields won her first world title a year after tuning pro and has gone onto win titles in three weight division.
Shields is also the only boxer in history, female or male, to hold all four major world titles in boxing—WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO—simultaneously, in two weight classes.
22. Nicola Adams – London 2012 and Rio 2016
Like Classia Shields earlier on this list, Nicola Adams is dual Olympic gold champion winning at London 2012 and Rio in 2016. A very decorated amateur career, she is without a doubt britians greatest ever amatuer female boxer winning 8 golds and 4 silver across multiple international tournaments.
After Rio, Adams turned pro in 2017 where she signed with Frank Warren, she would initially win the WBO interim flyweight title, but this was elevated. She unfortunately had to retire due to eye injury that with further impact to her eye would most likely lead to irreparable damage and permanent vision loss.
For more like this check out the boxers I predicted to do well at Tokyo 2020 or you check out all my boxing style analysis blogs here.
Thanks for reading