There’s no doubt Lenexa’s Cam F. Awesome has what it takes to reach one of his goals in life — to become a stand-up comedian.
It’s difficult for anyone not to laugh when interacting with him, even humorless sports journalists trying to speak seriously with him about another big passion in his life — his amateur boxing career and dreams of an Olympic gold medal.
Despite a seemingly endless stream of hilarious one-liners and a relentlessly cheery disposition to keep everything about his boxing in a very healthy perspective, there’s no doubt Thursday night’s semifinal bout at the Pan Am Games (or what he calls the “Pan Cam Games”) did not please Awesome — the superheavyweight formerly known as Lenroy “Cameron” Thompson.
Facing Cuban Lenier Pero, Awesome lost in a very tight split decision, with one judge giving him the nod 29-28, but two others going with Pero at 29-28.
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“I gave it everything I had for the first two rounds,” said Awesome, a 6-foot-3, 219-pounder who got into boxing about 10 years ago to lose weight. “After the first round, I thought maybe Cuba isn’t that good. We put them on such a pedestal, but I decided to throw away the notion that Cuba’s good and he was just a guy with two hands like myself, and I wanted to punch him a lot, and I did.
“Then in the second round I landed a bunch of clean punches. And it was overall amazing. I thought I was better than I ever have been.
“Third round he picked it up a little bit, and it could be argued that he could have won the third round, but you could also argue that I should have won it, so in my books, since I love me, I’m going to go ahead and say I won that round too. And then after they said split decision, it kind of hurt my feelings, I’m not going to lie.”
When asked about how that kind of unjust decision seems common in the sport, he was quick to offer his opinion.
“It’s a very subjective judging system. I see guys rant and rave on how terrible the judges are, but you know, these are just a bunch of people from different countries who left their country, took off work, paying for their way, paying for their food, paying to be here, so I appreciate them being here,” he said, adding that he has seen a number of split decisions at the Games that he found troubling.
“I just wish they would say I won.”
Now that he won’t be able to fight for gold, he automatically gets a bronze medal.
Don’t try to tell him it’s a good consolation prize.
“If you ain’t first, you’re last,” said Awesome, who trains with John Brown. “I’m going to take my bronze and move forward. But yeah, bronze sucks. But I’m honored to be part of the Pan Cam Games and it’s my first time in Canada, so I’m going to take it for what it’s worth and be happy about it — or try to be happy about it, or seem happy about it to the public’s eye.”
He said living in the athletes’ village, getting to meet other athletes, and enjoying the warmth and hospitality of Torontonians, while feeling the Olympics-like spirit and vibe of the Games will stay with him for the rest of his life.
“Oh man, it has been such a great experience,” said Awesome, who turns 27 next month. “It’s like super-human athletes just walk around everywhere, very casually. … We’ll have super babies in the years to come and one day we can compete in the universe Olympics.”
And then there’s the food in the village.
“It’s like a buffet, but then you get to the end of the line and you don’t have to pay,” he said. “And there’s no tip jar.”
He’s hoping to enjoy an even bigger buffet next summer at the Rio Olympics.