Olympic boxing: The greatest American fighters to have won gold

Planet Sport takes a look into five of the greatest Olympians to have reached the pinnacle for America.

Every four years the Games is a big moment for boxers to deliver on the biggest stage - the most recent being in Tokyo.

Not only is there a chance to stand tall on the podium but each fighter is also presented with the opportunity to make a name themselves in front of an estimated audience of one billion worldwide.

And more importantly, every major promoter around the world will be watching to see who they could mould into their next superstar at professional level.

Despite there being very few winners in recent Olympics, America has had their fair share of winners who've gone on to become world champions on the pro circuit.

Planet Sport handpicks five of the best from America.

'Sugar' Ray Leonard

With the nickname Sugar, Leonard had a lot to live up to with the original 'Sugar' Ray Robinson in widely considered as the greatest fighter to have laced a pair of gloves.

Leonard certainly backed it up in the ring, starting with winning gold at the Montreal 1976 Games.

Fighting in a stacked team that included the Spinks brothers and Leo Randolph, Leonard won gold at light welterweight against a highly skilled Cuban Andres Aldama.

He also avenged one of his few defeats as an amateur in the process (Kazimierz Szczerba) in the semi-finals.

Muhammad Ali

At the time, 'The Greatest' was known as Cassius Clay and he reigned supreme in Rome with gold at light heavyweight.

An 18-year-old Clay blasted his way through all four opponents, including three-time European champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski in the final.

It is believed the Kentucky product hurled his medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a restaurant because of the colour of his skin.

In 1996, Ali was presented with a gold medal to replace it at the Atlanta Games, where he lit the flame at the opening ceremony.

Roy Jones Jr.

Now Jones Jr. did not win gold but of all the robberies we've seen in the Olympics, this is up there.

If you think Mick Conlan's in 2016 was bad then try watching Jones lose out to home favourite Park Si-hun in Seoul.

It was certainly worth a middle finger towards the judges scoring that fight. The 1988 middleweight verdict was so atrocious Jones won the Val Barker Trophy as the outstanding boxer of the tournament.

Judges were later found not guilty of any wrongdoing but had in fact been wined and dined by organisers of the Seoul Olympics.

Oscar De La Hoya

The nation was instantly in love with Oscar after he announced he would fight in the 1992 Olympics in tribute to his late mother Cecilia - who lost her battle with cancer two years prior.

De La Hoya grabbed the media's attention further with an opening round upset of Julio Gonzalez.

The "Golden Boy" beat Marco Rudolph - the only fighter he had lost to in his last couple of years as an amateur - to win the top prize in the lightweight category.

George Foreman

Big George maintains winning gold at the 1968 Olympics was by far his biggest achievement in a career which saw him become heavyweight champion and beat the likes of Joe Frazier.

Foreman, 19 at the time, defeated Soviet Union's Ionas Chepulis in a bout labelled as the 'Cold War' bout in Mexico City.

Waving his small American flag with pride after winning, Foreman's life changed.

No longer would he suffer in poverty, he was now in the big time.

The 1968 Games are remembered for American running duo John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who raised their fist in defiance on the podium to protest for black civil rights in the States.

Honourable mentions: Floyd Patterson (1952), Joe Frazier (1964), Pernell Whitaker (1984) & Andre Ward (2004).

READ MORE: Class of 2012: Where are Team GB's Olympic boxing heroes now?

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