No matter how many times his achievement is matched moving forward, nobody can ever take away what Robson Conceicao was the first to accomplish.
The unbeaten junior lightweight contender sat back and watched with pride as this year’s Olympic boxing team competed in Tokyo. It was a weird feeling for Conceicao to not be there, having represented Brazil in 2008 Beijing, 2012 London and 2016 Rio. The last of the three saw him become the first ever boxer from his country to win a Gold medal, doing so in his home nation following a win over France’s Sofiane Oumiha in the final round of men’s lightweight competition.
Conceicao (16-0, 8KOs) has seen the influence and impression he has left on the next generation of amateur boxers in Brazil, with this year’s squad matching its best-ever haul with three boxing medals. It came while he was preparing for the next big highlight in his career, a dangerous challenge of two-division and reigning junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23KOs), which takes place this Friday in Valdez’s childhood hometown of Tucson, Arizona.
“It was a tremendous honor to accomplish that for my people,” Conceicao recalled during an interview with BoxingScene. “By doing that, I was able to inspire a new generation. I was able to do that much more for the amateur program. Now it’s time to do that for pro boxers in Brazil, get this win and inspire the next generation of Brazilian boxers on the rise aiming to become world champion.”
Among its three medals, the most recent squad was able to add its second boxing Gold medalist. The moment came in dramatic fashion when Hebert Conceicao Sousa (no relation) rallied to knock out Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak with roughly 90 seconds to claim top honors in the men’s middleweight division. The win stood out among a pack that saw Abner Teixeira claim bronze in the men’s light heavyweight division and Beatriz Ferreira taking home silver after coming up just short in the final round of women’s lightweight competition.
Sousa has identified Conceicao as a close friend, a mentor and his boxing hero. Many in the nation hold the current junior lightweight contender—who turns 33 in October—in the same regard. That’s the level of responsibility he has come to appreciate and something he carries into the ring for every fight.
“I’m very happy with what the Olympic team was able to accomplish this year in Tokyo,” notes Conceicao. “I have been working with a couple of team members in this camp and they tell me that I am their inspiration. That means everything to me. I was the first to win a Gold medal for Brazil and many aspire to follow my lead.
“Now it’s my turn to set the same example as a pro.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox