Limerick southpaw Andy Lee, was Ireland’s only fistic representative at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.
Lee, boxing out of the St Francis BC in Limerick and one of the first members of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association’s High Performance Unit, qualified for Athens at the 2004 European Senior Championships in Pula, Croatia.
The three-time Irish Elite champion was celebrating on the double in Pula as he also secured a bronze medal in addition to his Olympic berth.
Lee, a silver medal winner at the 2002 AIBA World Youth Championships in Cuba, made an impressive Olympic debut after outclassing Mexico’s Alfredo Angulo. But he then agonisingly lost on a countback in the next phase to Hassan ’Dam N’Jikam of the Cameroon following a 54-point thriller.
Just two points separated the combatants on accepted scores after a 27-27 tie, but Lee, who had ex-Irish head coach Billy Walsh working his corner, became the first Irish boxer to bow out of an Olympiad on the dreaded counback.
N’Jikam exited to eventual gold medallist, Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov of Russia, in the next phase. Gaydarbekov beat Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin, the current professional middleweight king, in the final.
The light-middleweight class was scrapped for the 2004 Games and Olympic boxing was now back down to 11 weight categories. Cuba, once again, finished in pole position the medals table.
Lee and Amir Khan, who won silver at the 2004 Games, were the only two boxers from Ireland and Great Britain to qualify for Athens. Limerick’s Lee, of course, claimed the WBO World middleweight title after switching codes.
Middleweight: Andy Lee (St Francis)
Beat Alfredo Lopez (Mexico) 38-23
Lost to Nassan N’Dam Njikam (Cameroon) 27-27 (44-42 on a countback)