Attempting to explain some of the angst his team is experiencing, Australian boxing team manager Peter Rogers, speaking about Aboriginal fighter Henry Collins, was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying: "If he can't sniff gum trees and have a look around, he gets a bit lost, as some Aboriginal boys do."
If that wasn't bad enough, it was one of the locals' best fighters, team captain Richard Rowles, who was bickering the loudest with their coach, Bodo Andreass, over the team's workout regimen.
"The one thing I can tell you we don't need to do is focus on that stuff," Ricardo Williams Jr., the U.S. light-welterweight, said.
"The Olympics, itself, can be enough of a distraction for anyone that allows it to be. No one needs to add all the nonsense to the mix."
The U.S. team didn't need to add any distractions, since it brought one along with it. Even though he has a strong team, particularly Williams, flyweight Brian Viloria and heavyweight Michael Bennett, coach Tom Mustin took the opportunity of his press conference this week to say, "If the playing field is level, we'll win our share of medals."
Mustin was taking a bit of a shot at the present computerized scoring system in boxing, in which judges must press a button to give a fighter a point for a blow. Within a one-second time frame, two of the five judges at ringside must press their buttons for a fighter to be awarded a point.
The system was implemented after many thought the judging in South Korea in 1988 was biased, particularly in the match involving Roy Jones Jr.
Critics contend that it is difficult for even one judge, let alone several, to register quick combinations, especially to the body.
"I've encouraged my fighters to stay away from the corners, don't focus on body punches, fight in the middle of the ring and find the 'sweet spot,' " Mustin explained. The "sweet spot" is where the fighter can be seen by the three judges on one side of the ring. "Every blow that is seen means a point. Sometimes, body blows are missed, which works to our detriment. But that's the way it goes."
Viloria, the first Hawaiian to fight for the United States since 1956 (yes, he is called Hawaiian Punch), is a favorite to win gold - although he could get a strong challenge from Cuba's Maikro Romero, who lost to him in last year's world championships - and Williams is in good position to do so as well. Bennett, the former convict, is ferocious in the ring, but he drew Cuban heavyweight Felix Savon in the second round.
Savon is attempting to become only the second boxing Olympian to capture three gold medals in the same weight class. He leads a strong team that Cuban coach Alcides Sagarra guaranteed would sweep all 12 gold medals, just the sort of thing you might expect to hear at this Olympic boxing competition.
But nothing quite compares to what has taken place with Australia's boxing team. Bradley Hore was disqualified Thursday when he was more than one kilogram over his weight limit.
Rowles said his coach "demands respect, but gives none in return." He and others were visited by world welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu and Australian Olympic Committee vice president John Devitt in an effort to straighten things out.
"At the moment, they are OK, at best," Rowles said.
The same could be said for boxing in general here, although not all is gloomy. Nigerian middleweight Eromosele Albert is considered his country's best medal prospect.
His nickname is "The Hope."
Stephen A. Smith's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org