(Sports Network) - As Rau'Shee Warren sees it, turning pro instead of going for a gold medal wouldn't fulfill his childhood dreams. That's why the diminutive southpaw is the first boxer since Davey Lee Armstrong in 1976 to make consecutive trips to the Olympics.
"People are wanting to go pro," Warren said. "A lot of people think, 'I want to go pro, get money.' People don't think 'let's go to the Olympics to get a medal.'"
"Now I feel I have enough experience to get the gold," Warren said.
The 21-year-old Warren, born and still living in Cincinnati with his mother, is the youngest of four brothers. He was brought up in the impoverished Westwood community and learned at an early age to stay safe by heading to the local gym to learnboxing.
"Coming up from a rough neighborhood, it was hard because there were a lot of things going on," Warren said. "My mom didn't really want me into the streets. She always kept me in the gym and I always kept myself there.
"There were a lot of fights going on, a lot of shootings, a lot of police around...things that go on in a bad neighborhood, so I didn't want to see myself following in the same pages as them (gang members). I wanted to follow my own stuff."
The reigning world amateur champion at 112 pounds, Warren was a ripe 17 when he made it to Athens for the Olympics and he was eliminated in the first round at the 106-pound level by China's Zou Shiming, who went on to win the bronze medal. The swift defeat left Warren wanting more, not just for himself, but for his country.
"Now I feel I have enough experience to get the gold," Warren said. "I'm mature more and I've become a leader."
Warren said he turned down offers to become a professional, and instead said he wanted to hone in on his amateur experience.
"I don't really think I walked away from that much," Warren said. "I was kind of young, plus at a lower weight class you really don't get paid that much. There's just a lot of swinging going on. I figured coming back to the Olympics is what I first came here for - a medal. There's going to be a lot of attention."