2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward (Oakland, Calif.) has been named a finalist for the 2004 Sullivan Award, given to the nation’s top amateur athletes.
Ward became the first boxer since 1996 to win an Olympic gold medal and joined Cassius Clay and Leon Spinks as light heavyweight gold medalists. He defeated two world champions en route to the gold medal, including a win over two-time world champion Evgeny Makarenko, who entered his bout with Ward on a five-year winning streak. The 20-year-old continuously overcame size disadvantages to win the United States’ only gold medal in boxing.
Ward came into 2004 on a six-year winning streak and clinched his spot on the 2004 Olympic Team with wins at the Olympic Team Trials and Olympic Box-offs. He went on to win gold at the 2004 Titan Games and ended his amateur career on a winning streak reaching back to 1998 and his early teens.
For the first time ever, public balloting will be a percentage of the voting and fans can access the ballot through www.usaboxing.org
Balloting will be conducted through March 25 from among nearly 1,000 members of the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors, National Governing Body representatives, college Sports Information Directors and AAU representatives. The public vote will count as one-third of an athlete’s total.
The AAU Sullivan Award annually recognizes the nation’s best amateur athlete, and has been presented every year since 1930. A boxer has never won the prestigious Sullivan award.
Ward joins an impressive list of athletes including fellow Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps (swimming), Carly Patterson (gymnastics), Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Paul Hamm (gymnastics), Cael Sanderson (wrestling), Steven Lopez (taekwondo), and Jeremy Wariner (track and field). 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart (football) and Elisa Au (karate) round out the list of finalists.