Those who witnessed Lionel Odom in the ring consider him one of best pure boxers the Golden Gloves tournament has ever seen.
Odom, who fought in the Gloves from 1988 to 1992, compiled an amateur record of 124-7 and took home the ultimate prize four consecutive times.
“Lionel was amazing. He had all the tools; he was like a boxing savant. He was the boxer’s boxer. He could do it all. He just had the talent and nobody wanted to fight him,” said Golden Gloves Historian Bill Farrell. “He could stop you, he could outbox you, he could play with you in the ring. He was remarkable to watch.”
Daily News Golden Gloves Tournament Director Brian Adams shared the sentiment.
“He’s the best amateur boxer that I have ever seen,” Adams said. “He had a high in-ring IQ. He knew when he had to fight you and when he had to box you.”
“I got involved through my brother. Everything that he wanted to do, I wanted to do too,” Odom said. “He tried boxing, so I went into boxing and I fell in love with it.”
When Odom was 12, he joined the PAL. He was in the ring facing opponents within three weeks. He fought in the Junior Olympics, Kids Gloves and an assortment of other amateur tournaments that would prepare him for the Daily News Golden Gloves.
“Those tournaments took me around the world as a kid. I learned early what it was like to be involved in boxing,” said Odom. “The Golden Gloves was the most prestigious tournament to be in.”
But he didn’t want to just be in the tournament. “I trained every day. They couldn’t keep me out of the gym,” Odom said. “My goal was to win it. When I got a chance to fight in it, I had to make sure I did my damage to win it all.”
Odom did enough damage to pick up a remarkable four Golden Gloves titles, two in the 112-pound weight class and two in the 119-pound weight class.
The 2017 Hall of Famer preaches a philosophy of defense, moving, ducking and dodging in the ring. “I worked on my craft. Boxing is not a contact sport,” he said. “The name of the game is to hit and not get hit. The more times I can limit you hitting me, that works well for me. If I hit you more times than you hit me, I win.”
Odom’s first Golden Gloves win was the most special to him. He was 17, and the young phenom had his plate full with several tournaments. “Everyone was talking about winning the Golden Gloves,” he said. “You win the Golden Gloves, you get your name etched in that book. I had a lot of things going on for me that year, too. I had gone out to the Nationals, I made the Olympic trials and I was in the Golden Gloves. That first tournament win of the Golden Gloves was the most memorable for me.”
Odom is still involved in the Golden Gloves as a trainer at Mendez Boxing gym. He views it as a way to pass his knowledge of the sport and his experience in the tournament to the next generation of boxers, a…