Like fellow 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing teammates Rau’shee Warren and Errol Spence Jr., Terrell Gausha has enjoyed a stellar start to his professional career. Unlike his Olympic brothers, though, Gausha’s dream of fighting for a world title still appears off on the horizon.
While Warren (14-1, 4 KOs) became a 118-pound world champion earlier this summer and Spence (20-0, 17 KOs) is on the verge of getting a 147-pound title shot, Gausha has toiled in relative obscurity, thanks largely to his presence in a stacked 154-pound division.
It’s a division that features the likes of titleholders Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs), Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs), Erislandy Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs) and Liam Smith (23-0-1, 13 KOs), along with former champion Demetrius Andrade (23-0, 16 KOs). Then there’s a long list of contenders that includes Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs), Erickson Lubin (16-0, 11 KOs) and Jarrett Hurd (18-0, 12 KOs).
Terrell Gausha (18-0, 9 KOs) will try to snake his way into that group of contenders on August 27 when he takes on hard-punching Steve Martinez (16-2, 13 KOs) of Bronx, New York, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. It will be Gausha’s second fight this year, following a seventh-round stoppage of Orlando Lora on April 30 in Carson, California.
“It’s a deep division, but I have a chance to display my championship skills against Martinez, a come-forward, pressure fighter who’s never been stopped,” says Gausha, who will be fighting on the undercard of a 147-pound main event between former titleholder Robert Guerrero and David Emanuel Peralta (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT).
“Martinez’s aggressive style will bring out the best in me, and I want the knockout if I can get it. I want the fans to leave saying I should be fighting big names for a world title. I’d like a title shot at the end of this year or sometime in .”
While his career hasn’t accelerated at the pace of Spence and Warren, Gausha is nonetheless grateful just to be boxing for a living. Because after a rough childhood, the idea that he would someday be a professional fighter—let alone an Olympian—would’ve been far-fetched at best.
Gausha was 8 years old when his father died from an illness, leaving him without a male role model as he tried to survive in what was a crime-ridden Cleveland neighborhood. Enter Bob Davis, who introduced Gausha to boxing at the age of 10 at the Glenville Recreation Center and whom Gausha credits for saving his life.
Under Davis’ tutelage, Gausha became a five-time Cleveland Golden Gloves Champion, a two-time national champion and a 2005 graduate of Glenville High School (which later produced Ohio State’s NCAA title-winning quarterback Cardale Jones, now with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills).
“Coach Davis took me to church, and taught me about life and how to be a man,” Gausha says. “He said boxing could change my life and allow me to one day take care of my family.”
Today, that family includes his mother, Taretha Brown, and 8-year-old daughter Ty’era. Sadly, Davis died of an illness in 2015, but not before seeing his protégé represent his country in the Olympics.
At the 2012 London Games, Gausha won his first-round bout by third-round knockout over Armenia’s Andranik Hakobyan, but was eliminated in his next fight after he was edged 16-15 by India’s Vijender Singh, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.
In the end, Spence and Warren also fell short of medaling, as did the entire U.S. team—the first time in history that no American boxer reached the Olympic podium.
Now 28, Gausha admits that failing to medal stung initially, but says he’s put it behind him and is intent on making the most of what he sees as a promising future.
“I trained for that ultimate goal of winning the gold medal, and deep down it hurt for a while,” he says. “But I’m in the prime of my career, so it’s time to step up and take advantage of this opportunity.”
It’s an opportunity Gausha appreciates more than he could possibly convey.
“A lot of my friends are dead and gone, or in jail,” Gausha says of his troubled youth. “There was a lot of drug activity, violence, shootings and killings. You got jumped or you learned to fight.
“[Thanks to boxing], I’ve been to Italy, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and London—parts of the world I never would have seen. Boxing saved my life.”