OLYMPIC GAMES | BOXING
Shooting survivor La Cruz to chase boxing gold hat-trick
Julio Cesar La Cruz landed a second boxing Olympic gold medal, then revealed his mother kept the bullet that might have ended his career.
Julio Cesar La Cruz set his sights on winning a third Olympic boxing gold medal in Paris after landing heavyweight glory at Tokyo 2020 on Friday.
The powerful Cuban, who was shot in the hip during an attempted robbery in January 2014, added to the light heavyweight title he won in Rio five years ago
On the chase for hat-trick gold
The 31-year-old now believes he can stay at the top until the 2024 Olympics.
La Cruz beat the Russian Olympic Committee's reigning world champion Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, who took silver, by unanimous verdict.
Two judges scored the gold medal bout 30-27 in favour of La Cruz and the other three settled on 29-28 decisions.
The success means Cuba have won three boxing golds in Tokyo, with La Cruz proud of his performance at the Kokugikan Arena.
"There was a lot of attention on the fight as he is the current world champion, but my team and trainers gave me a lot of confidence that I could win the fight, and they were right," La Cruz said. "They said that I had to believe in myself."
There appears to be no lack of self-belief with La Cruz, who added: "I've got two Games gold medals now but Paris is only three years away. I'll go to the next Olympics and try to win a third gold medal for my country."
Having won four world titles at light heavyweight, La Cruz is new to the higher weight category and seizing his opportunity to be a dual weight master.
A bullet that could've been fatal
After surviving the shooting seven years ago, La Cruz is keen to grasp every chance he gets to succeed.
"First of all when that happened it was tough," he said, "but I never lost hope.
"I had to heal for some time, but the Cuban doctors did a marvelous job and thanks to my hope and faith, my family and my mother, the Cuban people and Cuban doctors, the psychologists that helped me, I'm here today and was able to notch those two [gold medal] victories and I thought I deserved it."
The bullet that struck his hip remains in the family, La Cruz confirmed.
"My mother has it, as a token of remembrance of what happened there," he said.
Cuban Andy Cruz awaits Keyshawn Davis in the lightweight final, which will take place on Sunday.
Ask American Davis how he sees that going and the 22-year-old professional boxer will fire back a confident answer, despite losing to Cruz in the World Championship final two years ago.
"I feel like that's going to be an easy fight, man," Davis said on Friday. "I feel like it's going to be easier for me. Like I said, I'm bigger, stronger, faster, smarter."
He made that declaration after beating Armenia's Hovhannes Bachkov in Friday's semi-final.
The United States remain without a men's Olympics boxing gold medal since the Athens 2004 Games.