Poland unveils statue honouring US Olympic boxing team killed in 1980 plane crash

Tuesday, 18 June 2013
By Emily Goddard

Poland unveils statue honouring US Olympic boxing team killed in 1980 plane crash1June 18 - Polish sports officials have today unveiled a commemorative statue honouring the 22 United States Olympic boxing team members killed in a plane crash near Warsaw on March 14, 1980.

The memorial is the same as that originally located at the SKRA training facilities in 1986 but has been relocated in front of the Polish Olympic Committee (PKOl) building "to properly honour all the US fighters and coaches who died 33 years ago".

PKOl members, coaches and Olympic medallists, including Montreal 1976 boxing champion Jerzy Rybicki, Munich 1972 silver medal winner boxer Wiesław Rudkowski and double Olympic fencing champion Ryszard Parulski presented the statue.

The 14 boxers and eight staff members aboard the fated LOT Flight 7, which killed all 87 crew and passengers on board, were travelling from New York to the Polish capital to compete in international events in Kraków and Katowice ahead of the Moscow 1980 Olympics at the time of the tragic crash.

Coach Tom "Sarge" Johnson, who had lead the Montreal 1976 squad - with names like Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael Spinks and Leon Spinks - to five gold medals and seven medals overall, and Lemuel Steeples, who had recently won gold at the Pan American Games and was the favourite for an Olympic gold medal, were among those who died.

Future light-heavyweight champion of the world Bobby Czyz was not on the flight having suffered a car accident just days earlier.

Two months later, the US decided to boycott the Moscow Olympics because of the Soviet Union's invasion in Afghanistan.

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