Duke Ragan Becomes First U.S. Professional Boxer To Medal At Olympic Games

by Todd Kortemeier

Duke Ragan poses at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo.


Duke Ragan wasn’t able to capture gold in his Olympic boxing debut, but will take home silver from his impressive and historic run.
The first professional boxer to compete at the Olympic Games for Team USA, Ragan came up short in the gold-medal bout against fellow professional Albert Batyrgaziev of the Russian Olympic Committee. Batyrgaziev took the first-ever all-professional Olympic final by a 3-2 decision. Ragan becomes the first U.S. pro boxer to medal at the Games.
“Coming from the USA, I was the first professional boxer to compete in the Olympics. I take that and run with it,” Ragan said. “It was a blessing to be here. I’m glad that I was a professional. A little bit more experience even though I didn’t get the gold, but it’s all good.”
The medal is the first for Team USA in men’s featherweight since Ricardo Juarez in 2000. A slow start saw Ragan fall behind on the judge’s cards 4-1 after the first round. Scoring was the same in the second round before Ragan rallied to take four of five cards in the third and final round. 
“I feel like I gave it 100% effort,” Ragan said. “I feel like his condition won him the fight. I kind of found my rhythm later in the fight but it was too late then.”
Ragan began his Olympic campaign with a 3-2 win over France’s Samuel Kistohurry before dominating in a 5-0 win over Serik Temirzhanov of Kazakhstan. Ragan clinched at least a bronze with his 3-2 quarterfinal win over Ireland’s Kurt Walker then topped Samuel Takyi of Ghana for his place in the gold-medal bout.
The 23-year-old from Cincinnati was one of three professionals on the U.S. Olympic Team alongside Keyshawn Davis and Troy Isley. A Golden Gloves national champion in 2016, Ragan made his world championship debut in 2017 with a silver medal. He turned professional in 2020 and has compiled a 4-0 record with one by way of knockout. Ragan entertained the notion of a professional rematch against his gold-medal adversary.
“If that was to happen I really look forward to getting revenge and stuff like that, especially me and him, both being in the final of this Olympics,” Ragan said. "It would be a big headline and I’m pretty sure that everyone that tuned into the Olympics would want to see that again, especially on a bigger level.”
Ragan’s medal is the second one for Team USA so far at the Games. Oshae Jones won bronze in women’s welterweight on Wednesday. Davis and Richard Torrez Jr. are still alive in the Olympic tournament, with Davis in the semifinals of men’s lightweight and Torrez in the gold-medal bout of men’s super heavyweight. 

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.