Wessam Salamana, IOC Refugee Olympic Team boxer, bows out in Tokyo 2020 opener

Nine years after he boxed at London 2012 for his home country of Syria, Salamana was back boxing at the Olympic Games for the Refugee Team.

Picture by 2021 Pool

For the first time in nearly a decade, boxer Wessam Salamana was back at the Olympic Games.

A member of the Syrian team at London 2012, Salamana returned to the Olympic stage as part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team on Sunday (25 July), defeated in the first round of boxing competition at Tokyo 2020.

Salamana lost to Brazil's Wanderson de Oliveira in the men's lightweight (57-63kg) preliminary round, falling in a unanimous decision after three rounds.  

Salamana left Syria in 2015, seeking refuge in Germany. He began boxing at age 15 in Syria.

The father of two, Salamana also competes in kickboxing in German national competitions.

He has been outspoken about the power of sport for refugees.

"Boxing helped me a lot in integrating with the German people," he said in an Olympic Channel video. "Through boxing, a person can learn about different cultures."

He added: "I'll always be an athlete, I'll always be a boxer, despite the obstacles."