Byong-Uk Ri: North Korea’s Olympic Boxing Legend

Byong-Uk Ri, born on November 7, 1954, is a retired North Korean boxer who made a significant mark in the world of boxing, particularly in the men’s Light Flyweight (48 kg) category. His career is highlighted by his impressive performances in the Olympic Games, where he secured two medals, showcasing his skill and determination on the global stage.

Ri’s journey to Olympic fame began at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In this competition, he demonstrated his prowess by defeating Sidney McKnight of Canada with a knockout in the first round. He continued his winning streak by narrowly defeating Henryk Średnicki of Poland and Armando Guevara of Venezuela, both with a 3-2 score. Ri’s semi-final match against Payao Poontarat of Thailand ended in a victory by referee stoppage in the second round. However, in the final, he faced Jorge Hernández of Cuba and lost with a score of 1-4, earning him a silver medal.

Four years later, Ri returned to the Olympic ring at the 1980 Summer Olympics, determined to add to his medal tally. He started strong by defeating Henryk Pielesiak of Poland and Gilberto Sosa of Mexico, both with a 3-2 score. In the semi-finals, he overcame Dumitru Şchiopu of Romania with a 4-1 victory. Despite his efforts, Ri was defeated by Shamil Sabirov of the Soviet Union with a score of 0-5 in the final, securing a bronze medal for his performance.

In addition to his Olympic success, Ri also competed in the 1978 Asian Games, where he continued to demonstrate his boxing talent. He earned a silver medal, further solidifying his status as one of North Korea’s top boxers.

Byong-Uk Ri’s career is a testament to his dedication and skill in the sport of boxing. His achievements have not only brought pride to North Korea but have also left a lasting legacy in the world of Olympic boxing. His journey from a young athlete to an Olympic medalist serves as an inspiration to aspiring boxers worldwide.


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