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“I want a copy of the contract, and where is the money going to?” Russell Sr. said last week. “It’s not going to USA Boxing. This is something the coaches set up. And what’s breaking curfew? He was on the campus. You can’t go down the hall? What if he had been in the bathroom and didn’t hear them knock? Is that breaking curfew because he didn’t come to the door?

“It’s all about control. Gary’s a loner, and they don’t understand him, so they view it as being challenged,” Russell Sr. continued. “Why would you put someone like Gary under such mental duress right when he’s trying to prepare for such a crucial task? It’s all about control.”

Conflict with the national coach comes as no surprise. After Russell won the team trials in Houston, he and his father expressed concern that Campbell would try to change the boxer’s style. They also questioned Campbell’s qualifications after none of his boxers made this year’s team.

“My father’s coaching is what I was raised on. That’s what got me to this point,” Russell said. “And they think they can raise me to a higher level? [Campbell] has never had a boxer win a national title.”

Russell Sr. agreed.

“Let’s be candid: What has [Campbell] done? Hasn’t trained a No. 1 seed, never produced an Olympic champion. He hasn’t earned it.

But he added, “I tell Gary, ‘You gotta grin and bear it. Don’t rock the boat.’ And I will say, Dan hasn’t tried to change his style this time.”

Campbell, who also coached the 2005 U.S. boxing team that went to the World Games in Moscow, where Russell won a bronze medal, said he has stressed the importance of conditioning and made suggestions on only positioning and approach.

The coach said Russell and his teammates have to change their points of attack in the ring if they want to succeed on the international stage.

“These kids are gonna be going up against 30-year-old men. It’s not like domestic boxing. Their opponents will be much stronger, so they have to change their angles,” Campbell explained. “Gary doesn’t wanna hear it. He’s used to being able to stand in the middle of the ring, squarely in front of a kid and be able to box from the center of the ring on out and dictate to him. If you’re a 18-, 19-year-old kid, you don’t wanna be standing directly in front of a 30-year-old man. That’s putting yourself at a disadvantage. But … we’ll see how he does.”

Russell remains confident in his boxing style and insists he is ready to take on the world despite the conflicts outside the ring. He believes the ups and downs of the past year have made him better prepared to overcome tribulation and box at a high level.

“I have one focus: getting to Beijing,” Russell said. “Can’t worry about outside [stuff]. I’m my biggest threat. No one else can stop me. I’m ready. I feel good. I gotta go out there with God, get up on points early and win fights. I do that, I’m going to Beijing.”

  • June 12:A break in the action

  • September 5:The fight for Beijing