There have been numerous Olympic gold-medal winners who have gone on to become world champions. In the heavyweight division alone there are hall of famers Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Lennox Lewis and there are plenty more in the rest of the weight divisions.
However, this list features Olympic losers. These are 10 boxers who lost the gold-medal bout in their respective weight classes at the Olympics and went home with the silver instead. But they then went on to capture at least one world title after turning professional. Most of them would end up winning multiple belts and in some cases in more than one weight class.
10. Andriy Kotelnyk
Andriy Kotelnik of Ukraine fought as a lightweight at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and lost in the final match to Cuba’s Mario Kindelan. Kotelnik won four fights leading to the gold-medal showdown, two by decision and two by stoppage. He took home the silver after losing 14-4 in points to Kindlan. Kotelnyk turned pro later the same year and would go on to win the WBA Super Lightweight Title in 2008 with a 12th-round TKO over Gavin Rees. He defended it against Norio Kimura and Marcos Maidana, but then lost the belt to Amir Khan of England by unanimous decision 16 months after winning it. Kotelnyk then fought Devon Alexander for a pair of junior welterweight titles in 2010, but also lost by unanimous decision. He fought once more in 2014 after a four-year break, won the bout and retired with a record of 32-4-1 with 13 Kos.
9. Ingemar Johansson
Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson became famous for his trilogy with then-heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Johansson won a silver medal at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland after losing to Ed Sanders of the USA and then turned pro in December of the same year. Johansson won the European Heavyweight Title in 1956 and beat fighters such as Henry Cooper, Joe Erskine and Eddie Machen to earn a shot at Patterson’s crown. Johansson knocked Patterson out in the third round at Yankee Stadium in June of 1959 to become the new heavyweight king. However, Johansson was knocked out in the fifth round a year later in the rematch and was stopped again in 1961 the sixth round in their third straight meeting. Those were the only two fights Johansson lost as a pro as he retired in 1963 as the European champ with a mark of 26-2 with 17 Kos.
8. John Mugabi
John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi was a hard-hitting Ugandan who lost the final of the 1980 Olympic welterweight division in Moscow to Andres Aldama of Cuba. Mugabi turned pro a few months later and eventually captured the WBC Super Welterweight Title. He also challenged for the middleweight championship twice, but fell short due to his relatively weak chin. Mugabi was knocking out top contenders left, right and centre as he rose in the rankings and earned a middleweight shot against undisputed champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler in 1986. It was a back and forth fight, with both boxers landing bombs, but Mugabi was stopped in the 11th round. The battle took a lot out of him as he was stopped in the third round by Duane Thomas in a super welterweight title fight just nine months later. Mugabi bounced back with eight straight wins by knockout and won his title by stopping Rene Jacquot in the second round in 1989. He defended it twice and lost it by KO to Terry Norris. Mugabi challenged Gerald McLellan for the vacant WBO Middleweight Title in 1991, but was stopped once again. After losing four of his last nine contests he retired in 1999 with a record of 42-7-1 with 39 Kos.
7. Amir Khan
England’s Amir Khan was a silver-medal winner at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece in the lightweight division while Mario Kindelan of Cuba won his second straight gold. After going 101-9 as an amateur, the 30-year-old turned pro a year later and is currently 31-4 with 19 Kos. He has won the WBA and IBF Junior Welterweight Titles and was also the WBA (Super) Champ. He moved up two weight divisions to challenge Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez for the WBC and Lineal Middleweight Belts in May, 2016 and was stopped in the sixth round after outboxing the champ. Khan, who’s known for smooth boxing skills and a relatively weak chin, has still managed to beat the likes of Chris Algieri, Devon Alexander, Luis Collazo, Julio Diaz, Marco Antonio Barrera, Carlos Medina, Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi and Andriy Kotelnyk.
6. Michael Carbajal
One of the best ever small men to lose an Olympic final and win a world title as a pro was Michael Carbajal of the U.S. He won the silver in the light flyweight division at the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea after losing to Ivailo Marinov of Bulgaria. Carbajal, nicknamed ‘Little Hands of Stone,’ turned pro in 1989 and became a five-time world champion including being the Undisputed and Lineal Light Flyweight Titleholder. Carbajal boxed until 1999 with a record of 49-4 with 33 Kos. He beat the best of his era including Jorge Arce, Scotty Olson, Melchor Cob Castro and Humberto Gonzalez. In fact he fought Gonzalez three times and two of his four career losses came to him. Both of them were inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.
5. Chris Byrd
One of the most-skilled heavyweight champs of the past half century was southpaw Chris Byrd of the U.S. Byrd competed in the middleweight division at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain and lost the final to Ariel Hernandez of Cuba. He turned pro a year later and started to add the pounds, becoming a heavyweight. He beat several top-10 opponents and landed a shot at WBO Champion Vitali Klitschko in April, 2000. Byrd won the title when Klitschko couldn’t continue after the ninth round due to a shoulder injury. Byrd then faced Klitschko’s brother Wladimir in his first defense just seven months later and lost by unanimous decision. Byrd won his second heavyweight crown by beating Evander Holyfield for the vacant IBF belt in 2002. He defended it four times until losing to Wladimir Klitschko again by seventh-round KO in 2006. Byrd lost three of his last five bouts and retired in 2009 with a mark of 41-4-1 with 22 Kos.
4. Virgil Hill
American Virgil Hill lost the 1984 Olympic middleweight final in Los Angeles, California to Shin Joon-Sup of South Korea and then went on to embark on an excellent pro career later that year. The hall of famer fought as a light heavyweight and cruiserweight in the professional ranks and won world titles in both divisions. He was a two-time WBA Light Heavyweight Champ and also won the IBF and Lineal Titles. He would win the WBA Cruiserweight Belt twice as well. Hill retired in 2007 after losing three of his last four fights and then decided to come back for one final bout and victory in 2015. His final record stood at 51-7 with 24 kos and 31 of his contests being world title fights. Hill took on the likes of Tommy Hearns, Roy Jones Jr., Henry Maske, Frank Tate, Fabrice Tiozzo, James Kinchen, Bobby Czyz, Leslie Stewart and Marvin Camel.
3. Riddick Bowe
When Riddick ‘Big Daddy’ Bowe of the U.S. lost the gold-medal match of the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea, he didn’t just lose to anybody as his super heavyweight opponent was Lennox Lewis of Canada. Lewis would go on to become one of the greatest heavyweight champions history and fellow hall of famer Bowe wasn’t that far behind. Bowe turned pro in 1989 and hung up the gloves in 1996, but then came back to fight from 2004 to 2008. His final record was 43-1 with one no-contest and 33 Kos. He was the Undisputed Champion at one point and a two-time heavyweight titleholder. Bowe never avenged his Olympic defeat to Lewis as he tossed his WBC Belt in the garbage can instead of facing the mandatory challenger. His only pro loss came to Evander Holyfield, but he beat Holyfield two out of three times in their trilogy. Bowe was the first heavyweight ever to win the IBF, WBO, WBA and WBC titles and also beat the likes of Pinklon Thomas, Bert Cooper, Tony Morrison, Tyrell Biggs, Tony Tubbs, Mike Dokes, and two brutal fights by disqualification against Andrew Golota.
2. Gennady Golovkin
Gennady ‘Triple G’ Golovkin of Kazakhstan may be undefeated since turning pro in 2006, but he was a loser in the middleweight final at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece to Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov of Russia. The 35-year-old is currently 37-0 with 33 Kos and considered to be one of the best middleweight champions in history. He can solidify that claim when he takes on Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on September 16th in Las Vegas. Golovkin currently holds the IBO, WBC, IBF and WBA (Super) Middleweight Titles and is ranked top-five when it comes to pound-for-pound boxers. He’s been criticized for the quality of his opponents, but that’s not his fault. Golovkin’s still beaten some fine boxers such as Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, David Lemieux, Daniel Jacobs, Kassim Ouma, Gabriel Rosado, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Martin Murray and Kell Brook. Golovkin combines fierce knockout power with a solid chin as he’s never been off his feet as an amateur or pro.
1. Roy Jones Jr.
The greatest robbery in Olympic boxing history took place in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. This is when Park Si-Heon of that country was handed the junior middleweight gold medal after being completely outboxed by Roy Jones Jr. of America. Jones turned pro a year later and the 48-year-old is still competing with a record of 65-9 with 47 Kos. Jones has won numerous championships, accolades and wards as a pro as he’s a six-time world champion with world titles in four different weight divisions, which are middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight. He’s the only junior middleweight in history to debut in the 154 lb. division and then go on to be crowned the heavyweight champ. Jones has definitely had a hall of fame career, but with eight of his nine career losses coming in his last 24 bouts he may soon hang up his gloves.