New International Boxing Hall of Fame coach Kenny Adams worked with dozens of notable fighters, but it’s possibly his glory days with the U.S. Olympic team he remembers most fondly.

Adams turns 85 this year and was unable to travel to Canastota, New York, to be inducted this year but, already a member of several Halls of Fame, he said: “It really makes you feel good. It’s a nice feeling when somebody recognizes things you’ve done over the years, and that’s good.”

Speaking at DLX Boxing gym in Las Vegas, his regular spot, Adams reflected on his career the day after he was immortalized in upstate New York.

“I was assistant coach for the ’84 Olympics, head coach for the ’88 Olympics, and Bob Arum afforded me the opportunity to come here to Las Vegas to set up the Top Rank gym. I did that, got that rolling and I became his head trainer. All of that helped take me to the next level,” Adams explained.

While there were plenty of medals and there have subsequently been a lot of champions to celebrate, Adams remembers how justice was not done in Seoul in 1988, when Roy Jones Jr. was robbed of a gold medal on the wrong end of one of the worst decisions in boxing history.

“It was bad for him, because he really took it hard,” Adams recalled. “It was real tough, because he knew he won, without a doubt. I was real angry, but you had to maintain your composure to keep your guy cool, and that’s what I had to do. That’s all I could do.”

Despite his defeat in the final to Park Si-Hun, Jones was awarded the Val Barker trophy, which goes to the best fighter in the tournament.

“They knew,” Adams continued. “It was just one of those things. Boxing has them. It has its ups and its downs.”

Adams is a Vietnam veteran who spent a lot of time posted in Europe, and one of the many things he was known for was learning strength and conditioning methods in Germany and bringing them back to America.

Among the many names he worked with are Ruslan Chagaev, Edwin Valero, Vince Phillips, Johnny Tapia and Diego Corrales, the latter of whom was inducted posthumously last weekend, too. But Adams has particularly fond memories of another star.

“To me, one of the best was a bantamweight, and it was Kennedy McKinney. I didn’t start [with] him because he had started in Mississippi, where he’s from, but I did his drilling when he came in. I recruited him into the military. We fought [Marco Antonio] Barrera [in 1996] … he had great reflexes and he could punch. In between that, he wasn’t an explosive puncher, but he was a quick puncher who could put it together.”

Adams shadowboxed briskly in DLX today and was asked who he would have liked to have worked with in boxing history if he had the chance.

The answer did not take long to come.

“Sugar Ray Robinson,” said the old-school guru with a smile. “I would have loved that. My nickname was ‘Lil Sugar,’ so I thought he was one of the greatest fighters of all time; you could say he was the greatest, without a doubt. He had everything. He had power, speed, flexibility, quickness, everything.”

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