The road to Rio is going straight through Memphis.
In March, news broke that Memphis will play host to the 2016 U.S. Olympic women's boxing trials and the men's Olympic boxing trials qualifier. And last week, Congressman Steve Cohen was named as the honorary captain of the event.
The trials, which will be open to the public, will be held from October 25th through the 31st at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, with the final event held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts on Halloween night.
The women's boxing trials will be the final step on the road to the Olympics. Female fighters who win the event in Memphis will go on to compete in Rio de Janeiro. The men's event is a qualifying tournament, and those who win in Memphis will make the cut for the men's Olympic trials, which will be held elsewhere. In other words, Memphis is the final step for women before the Olympics and the second-to-last step for men.
Next year's Olympics ceremony in Rio will mark only the second time women's boxing has been included as a sport, following its first appearance in London in 2012. It will also be the first time in United States boxing history that a returning women's Olympic boxing medalist, Claressa Shields, will compete in the Olympic trials.
Last week's press conference introduced new sponsors for the event, and it was announced that St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will receive some of the proceeds from ticket sales for the events. After being named honorary captain, Cohen expressed enthusiasm for the boxing trials.
"This will be special because the [amateur boxers] are fighting to represent our nation and to bring back gold. I hope they do, and I'll be there with them," Cohen said. "It's going to be a great event for Memphis. I hope everyone will participate and cheer these young women on."
One of the new sponsors is City Gear, an athletic outfitter based in Memphis, which has agreed to be the title sponsor of the event. City Gear has 124 stores in 15 states, more than 10 of which are in the Memphis area. City Gear President and CEO Mike Longo stressed the national importance of Memphis hosting this event.
"Memphis has a deep and rich tradition and history of supporting amateur sports. We stand with the amateur athletes. We support them. They do a great job, and we are excited to be part of that yet again," Longo said.
One of the boxers who will be competing at the trials, Ginny Fuchs, shared her excitement for the weeks ahead.
"In my head, I'm just thinking I can't wait to get to Rio and stand on the top of the podium and get that gold medal. That's what I've been focused on doing," Fuchs said. "I put all my dedication and soul into this. So when y'all see me, I will put on a great show."
Tickets for the trials, including the final at the Cannon Center, can be purchased on TicketMaster. Tickets start at $15.