Boxer Bruno Julie became Mauritius’ first and only Olympic medallist when he won bronze in the bantamweight at Beijing 2008, triggering delirious celebrations throughout his home country.
Glory dayOn 18 August 2008 the entire population of Mauritius gathered round their TV sets to watch live coverage of the Olympic bantamweight quarter-final bout between their very own Bruno Julie and Venezuela’s Hector Manzilla at the Workers Indoor Arena in Beijing. Boxing in his trademark bustling style, dodging Manzilla’s punches and keeping his guard low, Julie moved into a 3-2 lead in round one. Though his opponent came back to lead 6-5 at the midway point, the Mauritian regained his one-point advantage at the end of round three before surging to a 13-9 win. In doing so he made sure of a berth in the semi-finals and a bronze medal, earning himself a prominent place in the island’s sporting history.
Living the dreamFour days later Julie took on Cuban favourite Yankiel Leon with a place in the final at stake. Producing a brave performance, the underdog took the initiative in a closely contested fight, only for Leon to hit back and claim a 7-5 points win. After collecting his country’s very first Olympic medal, Julie said: “My dream has always been to win gold at the Games, and that dream goes on.” On his return home, the kid from Beau-Bassin Rose-Hill was given a hero’s welcome, prompting him to comment: “This medal is for all the people of Mauritius.”
Magic glovesNicknamed “The Mauritian Magician” and “The Creole Crusher”, Julie is the most successful boxer the island nation has ever produced. He worked his way up from the bottom, training hard in tough conditions in his younger years before finally making an impact after the turn of the millennium. In addition to his Olympic bronze, he won the African title in 2007, this after winning continental silver in 2001 and 2003. A bronze medallist at the All-Africa Games in 2007, he took gold in the competition in 2011 and also won silver and bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2010 respectively, as well as silver at the 2009 Jeux de la Francophonie. After failing to qualify for London 2012, he was invited by Philippe Hao Thyn Voon, the president of the Mauritian National Olympic Committee, to attend the Games as a mentor to the national team’s athletes. Once he finishes competing as an amateur Julie plans to move into coaching.