Hristov, the 1987 European champion, would show high marks for both
talent and experience. Gold medal? Hey, not yet. What we also need to
know about fighters in these Games is: How lucky are they? If Hristov
is unlucky, he might be on a plane back to Sofia before the
The first hurdle for the boxers is the blind draw, held the day
before the bouts begin, in which many medals will be won and lost.
Hristov could wind up in the same bracket as Kennedy McKinney, the
fine U.S. bantamweight, or with an East German, a Soviet, a South
Korean and a Yugoslav. Also, because of the size of the field --
between 500 and 600 boxers are expected, even more if the powerful
Cubans decide to show up in Seoul -- in most weight classes, gold
medal winners will have fought seven or eight times in 14 days.
Expect lots of medical disqualifications; small nicks could become
deep cuts four or five fights later. Factor in the usual number of
bad decisions resulting from the political bias or incompetence of
the judges, and U.S. assistant coach Tom Coulter is right when he
says, ''It's like being in a Las Vegas casino. You pull a handle and
hope for three bars.''
The only boxers to get a break will be the super heavyweights,
those over 201 pounds. In order to maintain a high level of
competition in this class, the field is limited to 18 entrants.
Hristov's problem may be that he doesn't weigh enough.