Seifu Mekonnen

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Seifu Mekonnen in 1976 preparing for Montreal Olympics

Seifu Mekonnen (born 1953) was a two-time Olympic boxer from Ethiopia. He was born in Aleltu, in the province of Showa. By the age of 12, he already showed athletic prowess as a bodybuilder. In 1971, inspired by Muhammad Ali, he became a boxer. An American coach, Edward Simon, recognized Mekonnen's ability and welcomed Mekonnen into his classes.

Mekonnen then fought exhibition bouts in front of as many as 50,000 people at His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie Stadium. In August 1972, the Ethiopian Olympic Committee chose Mekonnen for the team at the 1972 Munich Olympics as a light heavyweight.

Awarded a scholarship by the German Sports Ministry, Mekonnen went to Berlin two months early to train in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Stadium. While in Germany, he fought 10 exhibition fights and finished a course of studies in exercise science.

At the 1972 Olympics, he lost his only bout to Harald Skog of Norway on points. Mekonnen ended in an eight-way tie for ninth place out of 28 fighters in the Olympic finals.

In 1976, Mekonnen was again selected for the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and many said he was a medal hope, but he was unable to compete because of the African boycott of the Olympics. His scheduled bout with Robert Burgess of Bermuda was listed as a walk-over (not available to compete).

Mekonnen received awards and recognition from His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, president Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, president Idi Amin of Uganda, and president Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.

After 1976, Mekonnen fought and won in Russia and throughout Africa, then returned to Ethiopia as a national trainer. In 1980, he moved to the United States and trained athletes in many sports, including track & field and soccer, as well as boxing. He is now a certified personal trainer. Until 2006, he hosted a weekly Ethiopian Olympic sports program on New World Radio (WUST 1120 AM).

Mekonnen leads an annual celebration of the anniversary of Abebe Bikila's Olympic Marathon victories.[1][2]

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