Orlando boxer Omari Jones overcomes early bouts to earn Olympic spot

Perseverance pays off for 21-year-old boxer bound for Paris
Posted at 9:16 PM, Apr 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 21:16:32-04

ORLANDO, Fla. — The story of perseverance was displayed in the highly competitive Olympic Games world qualifying boxing tournament in Italy in March. Orlando native Omari Jones punched his way into qualifying for the Paris Olympics, a feat that speaks volumes about his skill and dedication.

At just 18, Omari Jones had a clear focus, and in an interview with a Miami-based videographer, Jones mapped out his future.

"I want to win the gold medal, which I will, go to (the) international tournament, win gold there, and in the next three years, you will see me in the 2024 Olympics," Jones said at the time.

Now, at 21, he sees those dreams become reality, but his success comes with failure.

"My first qualifier, I came up short at the Pan American Games," Jones said.

Instead of qualifying for the Paris Olympics, he had to return home to Florida and focus on a world qualifying tournament in Italy.

Omari Jones reflects on early losses that led to his Olympic goals
Orlando boxer Omari Jones reflects on the early losses in his amateur career that helped motive him to fulfill his Olympic dreams.

"There, I had to fight four times against four tough opponents," Jones said. "This tournament was actually harder than the first qualifier because you have to fight all the countries in the world."

Through all the ups and downs, the Orlando native's biggest supporter is his father and one of his coaches, Karl Jones.

"It was tough, but once the fight gets started, I'm a little more relaxed because I can see him doing his thing," Karl Jones said.

After watching his son sweep through three fighters in the opening rounds, the elder Jones said the championship was the most difficult to watch.

"We always have that eye contact at the end of each round, and he always looks for that nod," Karl Jones said.

Karl Jones, coach and father of Omari Jones
Karl Jones is not only a coach to Omari Jones. He's also his father.

That father-son nod was on full display in Italy. Omari Jones landed an Olympic spot at 156 pounds.

"It's a dream fulfilled," he said.

Jones said he hopes his story of perseverance can inspire the next generation.

"I really didn't have that much success as an early amateur," he said. "I lost at Silver Gloves. I lost at nationals three or four times. So, I just felt like my consistency over the years finally got me to this point."