AMNAT RUENROENG is the last professional boxer left in the Olympic Games. A change in the rules saw three qualify with only the Thai, a former IBF flyweight champion, remaining in the competition at Rio 2016. He is competing up at lightweight and boxes France’s Sofiane Oumiha today (Tuesday, August 9).
Ruenroeng however doesn’t wish to return to the professional ranks after his Olympic sojourn. He told the Olympic News Service, “As a professional I’ve achieved a lot already. I’ve been world champion, but I don’t have an Olympic medal. I want to prove myself.
“I don’t want to go back. As a professional you get more money, but as an amateur you think about your family and your country.”
He also discussed launching his boxing career after being sentenced to a 15-year prison term for robbing a tourist. “I was in jail for one-and-a-half years until the King pardoned me [in 2007],” he said. “Life in prison changed me a lot… You get disciplined and you learn how to tell what’s right and what’s wrong. I received an education for the first time.
“I had the opportunity to try boxing, football and kickboxing. But most importantly, prison taught me the importance of family and friends. It helped me develop concentration and it gave me a conscience, to think before acting.”