During my chat with Jamel Herring, the junior welter Olympian from Coram, Long Island, I put the boxer on the spot. Which one fighter on the U.S. squad, I asked, soon heading to London for the Games, has the best chance to win gold? As he paused, I wondered if he'd tab himself, or offer another option. After about two seconds, Herring, the 26 year-old hitter who is hoping to be the first Marine to win gold since Leon Spinks in the 1976 Games, gave his pick.
"Rau'shee Warren," he said of the three-Games vet who is just 25 years old.
"It's long overdue," Herring said of the flyweight. "He doesn't take no days off. He motivates me every time we partner up. He could've easily quit, got a big paycheck in the pros, but he doesn't care about the money."
That lack of fixation on money has touched Herring and the rest of the squad. One need only peek at a newspaper to see half the pages filled up with the latest misdeed by a Wall St. titan, or another account of how politicians spend the GDP of a small nation on their campaigns. So yes, it does resonate when someone leaves money on the table, and works and fights for something other than green. "Rau'shee doesn't talk about who is after him, Golden Boy, Top Rank, et cetera."
Warren, a tri-captain of the crew along with Herring and Seattle's Queen Underwood, promised his mom Paulette eight years ago that he'd put his medal around her neck, and has stuck to that promise over the allure of a fat signing bonus. That, to me, is an American worth making a fuss over.