Dominic Breazeale Related: More photos in slideshow at end of story
Former University of Northern Colorado quarterback Dominic Breazeale never dreamed when he was throwing passes at Nottingham Field that he'd someday be going for gold in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
However, that's exactly where he's headed — as a boxer.
Breazeale, who played football for UNC from 2006-07, qualified for a spot as a super-heavyweight on the U.S. National Boxing Team with his runner-up finish at the Americas Qualifier tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this May.
It comes only four short years after leaving UNC with his bachelor's degree to become a member of the All-American Heavyweights, a boxing program out of The Rock gym in Carson, Calif.
The program is run by Michael King, who's best known as the president and CEO of King World Productions, which syndicated such television hits as the "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Breazeale got the call from a recruiter with the boxing program, which was trying to create the next generation of great heavyweight champions, while he was still at UNC. He said no at first because he wanted to pursue a career in the NFL, but when he realized that was not going to be a possibility he took up the offer to box.
Still, his football career at UNC served him well and helped him transition into the sport of boxing.
"The mental aspects of playing are similar in the sport of boxing," Breazeale said. "To know what my opponent is going to throw before he threw it just kind of helps out. It is kind of like playing chess. I know my opponents move before he makes it. It is definitely beneficial in the ring."
At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, his trainer, Manny Robles. called him "the perfect poster boy" as a super-heavyweight because of his size, strength and athletic ability. However, Breazeale still had a lot to learn as he made the transition from football to boxing. He started from scratch, learning everything from conditioning for a fight to how to hit the speed bag.
"I have never had to run any kind of long-distance in my life before," Breazeale said. "Back in football I never had to do three miles to five miles in a morning run, so that was something that was brand-new."
Robles saw how much potential Breazeale had from the start. Still, Robles admitted that it's rare to see someone like Breazeale who's never boxed before have so much success in such a short time.
"He is not like the majority of boxers who started out when they're young or for that matter in any other sport whether it be football, baseball, basketball or boxing," Robles said. "Typically you start out when you're in your early teens and whatnot. This kid is just one of these boys that is really strong and has unlimited potential and the rest is history."
Breazeale hopes that potential will help him bring home the gold from London. If it does, he knows his time at UNC helped pave the way.
"Football builds great character in guys and you are always instilled with the edge to never give up and never quit," Breazeale said. "So that is definitely something I can take from football that can serve me in the ring."
Read more about Dominic Breazeale's quest for gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in Northern Vision, UNC's magazine for alumni and friends of the university, due out this fall.
Contributing writer Matt Schuman is a 1986 UNC graduate and a journalist for the Greeley Tribune covering UNC athletics.
UNC's Other London Olympics Connection
Lisa Elson helps make a lot of athletes' Olympic dreams come true.
Whether it's the Olympic or Paralympic Games, Elson is working behind the scenes to make sure that every athlete's experience at the games are enjoyable and memorable.
Elson, a master's student at UNC from 2009-10, is a coordinator with the United States Olympic Committee that handles the 2012 Paralympic Games, which will be held in London beginning Aug. 29, just after London Olympic Games conclude.
Prior to her current role with the USOC, she worked as an executive assistant to the managing director in international games doing all the preparation for the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, Paralympic Pan-American and Youth Olympic Games.
In her current role, she works on getting the U.S. Paralympic team entered for all the events and working with the organizing committee at the games to make sure all the information is correct in the system and matches up with all the other international federations.
She also worked in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver where she worked in the Olympic village processing center where all the athletes get their clothes for the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the uniforms for the medal ceremonies.
Part of her responsibilities also included handing out the commemorative items the athletes receive like their Olympic rings and watches.
"It is kind of the very first stop for the athletes to get their first experience if they have never been to the games before," Elson said. "It is the first point in their journey, so it is really neat to see all the athletes react and how excited they were seeing someone like Apollo Ono walk in and get his outfit for the games is kind of surreal."
Of course, watching the Paralympic athletes succeed gives her just as big a thrill.
"Especially the Winter Games and like seeing the blind athletes skiing because I can't even ski and here they are going down a hill at a very high speed and relying entirely on a guide," Elson said. "So it is pretty impressive to see how they perform and hear their stories as well."
- Matt Schuman
UNC's Other Olympic Connections from the Past
- The late Tony Rossi was head coach of the men's gymnastics team, an athletic trainer and a faculty member at UNC from 1949-83. He was on the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1956-60 and was named USOC Trainer of the Year in 1954. (http://uncbears.com/information/halloffame/1995Class)
- Patrick Burris (BA-72) wrestled at UNC and went to the 1972 and 1976 Olympics in judo and wrestling. He was also coach of the 1996 USA Judo Olympic Team. (http://burrisusastars.org/id21.html)
- Scott Hasson, (EdD-82) served as assistant wrestling coach at UNC and is now part of China's Sports Training & Rehabilitation Committee for the London Olympics. (http://www.angelo.edu/news/PTOlympic.php)
- William H. White III (BA-82) ran track at UNC and went to the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in the bobsled.(http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/wh/bill-white-1.html)
- David Stotlar, Sport and Exercise Science professor, was selected by the USOC as a delegate to the International Olympic Academy in Greece and the World University Games Forum in Italy. He also served as a venue media center supervisor for the 2002 Olympic Games. (http://www.unco.edu/nhs/ses/staff/stotlar.htm)
- Kenny Hashimoto (BA-2010), was an alternate in judo for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
- Dorna Schroeter (MA ‘81) served as range communicator at the biathlon venue for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and was also chosen to represent the venue's officials in the opening ceremony.
- Compiled by Department of Athletics and UNC News Service. Did we miss someone? Let us know and we'll include them in an update to this list that will appear in the fall/winter edition of Northern Vision, UNC's magazine for alumni and friends of the university. UNCNews.Service@unco.edu