At the Rio Olympics, he was one of the heroes who contributed to the fame of the French Boxing. Only dominated by Brazil’s Conceiçao in the final, Sofiane Oumiha went from shadow to light with this lightweight silver medal.
The most difficult thing is to confirm, one says. The Toulousain dit the I’s, if it was useful, in Hamburg on September 2nd, 2017, day of the World Championships’ final. On the red corner, Lazaro Alvarez, 26, one of the gifted cuban boxing, 2011 World champion in bantamweight, 3rd of the 2012 Olympics, double title holder in lightweight. On the blue corner, Sofiane Oumiha, 22 years old, from Toulouse, Olympic vice-champion and outsider.
The outcome ? Unanimous decision in favor of the boxer from Toulouse, who becomes the 4th French amateur World champion (after Thomas in 2001, Blain in 2003 and Yoka in 2015). A success that he will confirm in May 2018 at the World Series of Boxing held between the Fighting Roosters of Paris and the Domadores of Cuba. At the age of 23, Sofiane Oumiha is the World N°1 of the lightweight division. He is therefore logically the favorite for the title at the Mediterranean Games (June 25th-30th for Boxing).
What is your state of mind before these Mediterranean Games ? Do you consider them as a step or as a goal ?
It is both a step and a goal. The Med’ Games are one of my goals of this year. At each tournament, I have to win a medal. And, in addition, the Mediterranean Games correspond to my first big competition among the Senior category 5 years ago. And I had won gold. But it’s also a step to win gold at other tournaments.
What memories do you have of your victory in 2013 ?
This was my first gold medal. I did not know yet what was high level. This year, my approach is different, with another role, and with everything I have learned. I have gained experience since 2013. But, still, the level of the tournament is quite high, even if there are not all the best countries.
« Alvarez, I watch him on TV since I was little »
What has tipped the scales in your decision to stay in the amateurs until the Olympics ?
First, it’s a personal goal, in the sense that I am running after the Olympic gold. But it is also true that, in my athlete’s project, the idea was to stay in boxing amateur to toughen me up, and to fight in the WSB (World Series of Boxing) also to strenghen myself. Why not turn pro after the Tokyo Olympics ? I would be 25 years old. I will be mature enough to become pro.
If I tell you Robson Conceição, what comes to your mind ?
The Olympic final against a Brazilian fighter in Brazil. It was quite extraordinary… Because to live an Olympic final against a Brazilian in Brazil… It’s something magical. But it concerns history now (he laughs).
And if I tell you Lazaro Alvarez…
He is a boxer I watch on TV since I was little and I find myself facing him in the World Championships’ final ! Then, I met hima gain in WSB (May 18th in Paris). It was also a hard and explosive fight. These are fights where you take confidence. You really meet the best. It’s high level.
Was it important for you to beat Alvarez again (split decision) ?
I knew it was one of my last fights before the Mediterranean Games (4 fights, 4 successes in 2018). And I had to show that my victory at the Worlds in Hamburg was not a mistake.
« I do not want to project myself too far »
What makes you keep going forward ?
My goals. Have a goal and reach it. This is what drives each athlete : to achieve his goals. Today, my goal is the Mediterranean Games. I will see then. I will proceed step by step. I do not want to project myself too far. After the Med’ Games, there will be the European Union. And then, we will be in 2019 when everything accelerates, where the Olympic trials will begin.
An advice to a teen ?
I repeat it every time : Believe in our dreams. The point is also to give yourself the means to succeed and go after your dream. There will inevitably be ups and downs in this course but, whether one succeeds or not, it is an experience to live and it forges the character. So, believe in our dreams.
What does a partnership with Adidas mean to you ?
It is a satisfaction to have found an equipment manufacturer. This certainly gives value to the athlete. It hass been a while since many followed me.