Boxing

Mariah Bahe aiming to continue tradition of Olympic medallists from less-known boxing nations

As the Navajo Nation teenager looks to qualify for Paris 2024, take a look at this list of boxers who shocked the world to win Olympic medals.

By Evelyn Watta ·

Mariah Bahe hopes to be the first Navajo Nation boxer to become an Olympic champion.

The 16-year-old Native American, who is featured in the Olympic Channel Original series Mariah: A boxer’s dream, wants to follow in the footsteps of other boxers from lesser-known boxing nations, who shocked the world to win an Olympic medal.

Bahe has set her sights on Paris 2024, and qualification would make her the first female boxer from Navajo to qualify for the Olympics.

But she has even bigger aspirations: to win the Navajo Nation's first boxing medal.

In this way, Bahe hopes to emulate other great hitters like Bruno Julie of Mauritius, Paea Wolfgram (Tonga’s first Olympic medallist), Guyana’s Michael Anthony, Mavzuna Chorieva from Tajikistan.

Here, we take a deeper look at Olympic boxing medallists from countries without a boxing tradition.

Mariah: A Boxer’s Dream | Film

16-year-old Navajo boxer Mariah Bahe is fighting against all odds to become...

Mira Potkonen, Finland

After the birth of her second child, Mira Potknonen turned to boxing in a bid to shed her post-pregnancy weight.

The Finnish fighter must have been a big hit in every sense of the word, as she was quickly persuaded by a local coach to take up the sport competitively.

She went on to represent her nation at the London 2012 Olympics qualifiers, but missed out on a spot at the Games.

Four years later, the then 36-year-old upset Ireland’s Katie Taylor, an Olympic champion and five-time World Championship gold medallist, to seal her place at the Rio 2016 Games.

Potknonen was aided by the International Boxing Association's decision to raise the amateur boxing age limit to 40 years from 34.

She was one of the oldest boxers in Brazil, but went on to clinch bronze in the lightweight division, and her country’s only medal at Rio 2016.

It was Finland’s first boxing medal since Barcelona 1992.

How does boxing mum Mira Potkonen do it?

The mother of two stunned reigning champion Katie Taylor to claim Finland's...

Mavzuna Chorieva, Tajikistan

The Tajikistani boxer was the Central Asian nation's first-ever boxing Olympic medallist, when women’s boxing made its Olympic debut at London 2012.

Chorieva was awarded a bronze medal after losing to eventual gold medallist Katie Taylor in the semi finals.

She is to date her country’s only female Olympic medal winner, of the four Tajikistanis to have finished in the top three.

Chorieva makes history for Tajikistan

Mavzuna Chorieva defeated Dong Cheng on points in the London 2012 lightweig...

Bruno Julie, Mauritius

Before Beijing 2008, Mauritius had never won an Olympic medal.

But Bruno Julie, also known as 'The Mauritian Magician', changed that statistic.

On August 18, 2008, Julie made history by winning his bantamweight quarter-final bout, securing himself at least a bronze medal at the Olympic Games.

He lost to Cuba’s Yankiel Leon in the semi-finals, but the Mauritian had punched his way to history, dedicating his award to “all the people of Mauritius”.

Bruno JULIE

Mauritius
Boxing
See More

Number of medals

1 Olympic medals

1

Olympic Games

1 Olympic Games

Issake Dabore, Niger

The Munich 1972 Olympics saw wide celebrations in the African nation of Niger, when Issake Dabore won bronze in the light-welterweight division.

He was the first athlete from his country to compete at the Olympics and also the first to win an Olympic medal.

Dabore earned his medal at his third Games, where he overcame South Korean Tai-Shik Park in the quarter-finals.

To this day, it is one of only two Olympic medals won by Niger athletes, the other being Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga's taekwondo silver at Rio 2016.

 Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga of Niger celebrates after win the Men's +80kg semi final at Rio 2016.

Paea Wolfgramm, Tonga

At the 1996 Atlanta Games, a ‘Tongan warrior’ from the small Pacific archipelago punched his way to an historic silver medal.

Paea Wolfgramm, himself a gigantic former rugby player, was among the least experienced boxers that qualified for the Games.

The superheavyweight shocked established boxers like Cuban Alexis Rubalcaba in the quarterfinals and the explosive Nigerian Duncan Dokiwari in the semis.

However, after a bruising battle against Dokiwari that left him with a broken nose and broken wrist, Wolfgramm settled for silver against Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko in the final.

Klitschko v Wolfgramm (Gold Medal) - Men's Super Heavyweight | Atlanta 1996

Wladimir Klitschko wins gold at Atlanta 1996 in the Super-heavyweight divis...

Clarence Hill – Bermuda

Clarence Hill is one of Bermuda’s sporting icons.

He was one of 16 athletes who represented the small island in the North Atlantic Ocean at the 1976 Montreal Games and had a memorable debut.

Hill's first fight at the Games was against Iran’s Parviz Badpa, and he was awarded a technical knock-out after blooding his opponent’s mouth and nose in the second round of their heavyweight contest.

The burly Bermudan won his quarter-final against Belgian Rudy Gauwe, which meant that although he lost to Romania’s Mircea Simon in the semi-finals, he had already secured a bronze medal, and remains the only Olympic medallist from Bermuda.

Hill's heroics also meant that Bermuda became the smallest nation in terms of population (53,500 in 1976) to win an Olympic medal.

Best of Bermuda

Best of Bermuda NOC at the Olympic Games

Michael Anthony, Guyana

Another celebrated lone hero to date is Guyana’s Michael Anthony.

Anthony was one of the eight athletes who qualified to represent the South American nation - better known for cricket - at the Moscow 1980 Games.

He dazzled his way to bronze in the semi-final after losing to Juan Hernandez of Cuba, the eventual bantamweight gold medallist .

William’s bronze remains the country’s only Olympic medal.