The Olympic ideal of sports over warfare and politics was on full display in the boxing venue on Wednesday as the United States and Iraq put their ongoing war aside and worked together to acheive Olympic victory. Coached by an American, light flyweight Najah Ali of Iraq defeated North Korea’s Hyok Ju Kwak by a score of 21-7 to make Olympic history. Ali’s dad was an amateur boxer, but before the war, Ali shunned Iraq’s boxing problem because he didn’t was to subject himself to the tyranny of Uday Hussein, Saddam’s son, who controlled sports in Iraq. After the American invasion, American Maurice Watkins wound up as the Iraqi boxing coach. Watkins originally went to Iraq as a contractor for U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, Halliburton. He is a former junior welterweight who once challenged master boxer Saoul Mamby for a piece of the world title. Watkins took a team of 11 Iraqi boxers to Asian qualifying tournaments, but none earned their way to Athens. Olympic officials then told Watkins he could select one Iraqi and bring him to Athens as a wild card. Watkins picked the 4’11” Ali, and on Wednesday that selection was vindicated. “I’m a symbol of freedom,” Ali told the Associated Press. Other notables who advanced on Wednesday: super heavyweights Jason Estrada (USA) and Michel Lopez Nunez (Cuba), heavyweights Devin Vargas (USA) and Odlanier Solis Fonte (Cuba), light flyweight Yan Bhartelemy Varela (Cuba).