Boy to man: Dusmatov wins first Rio Olympic boxing gold
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Hasanboy Dusmatov was 7 years old when Mahammatkodir Abdullaev came out of their shared hometown to win the first summer Olympics gold medal in Uzbekistan's history.
''When I was a kid, I saw Abdullayev getting the gold medal,'' Dusmatov said. ''At the time, I had a dream to repeat the story and get another gold for my country.''
With one brilliant performance after another in Rio, Dusmatov made it happen for himself and for Uzbekistan.
The 5-foot-1 light flyweight dominated Colombia's Yurberjen Martinez in the final Sunday, claming Uzbekistan's second boxing gold and just its sixth gold in any summer sport.
Dusmatov climbed on his team's shoulders and rode around Riocentro Pavilion 6 with an Uzbek flag draped around him, screaming to the cheering section filled with his larger teammates and many crying Uzbek men.
''I'm very happy to be the first athlete from my delegation to get a gold,'' he said, dedicating the win to the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov.
Abdullaev memorably beat Miguel Cotto and Ricardo Williams Jr. on the way to the title at the Sydney Games in 2000. Dusmatov and Abdullaev are both from Andijan, and the 23-year-old Dusmatov joined him atop the sport by winning the first gold of the Rio Games in the men's lightest weight class.
Dusmatov was outstanding from his first fight in Rio, a unanimous decision over Mexico's Joselito Velazquez last Monday. As a seeded fighter, he only had to win four bouts to claim gold, but Dusmatov was clearly the dominant talent.
He proved it in the semifinals with a clear win over bronze medalist Nico Hernandez, the surprisingly impressive American. Dusmatov then cemented it by dominating Martinez in the final, throwing aggressive combinations and standing his ground with perfect footwork against the Colombian's offense.
Uzbekistan added six bronze medals to Abdullaev's gold over the previous four Olympics, but the current team is poised to multiply that medal count. Dusmatov's team is an amateur boxing power, with a 15-4 record so far in Rio and a roster full of gold medal candidates.
Martinez rose from obscurity to claim Colombia's first silver medal in Olympic boxing, highlighted by his stunning victory over Cuban star Joahnys Argilagos in the semifinal.
After Dusmatov climbed down from his team's shoulders and accepted his gold, he immediately turned his thoughts to the future - and something even Abdullaev didn't do.
''I will definitely continue, and I will participate in four years in Tokyo,'' Dusmatov said.