Boxing

The British boxers aiming high in Tokyo

Caroline Dubois, Cheavon Clarke, Charley Davison, Galal Yafai, Ben Whittaker, Karriss Artingstall, Frazer Clarke and Lauren Price are eight of the 11 boxers representing Team GB in Tokyo
Hosts: Tokyo, Japan Dates: 23 July-8 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and Sounds; live text and video clips on BBC Sport website and app.

Team GB has a proud history of boxing at the Olympics.

Anthony Joshua made his name at London 2012 by winning super-heavyweight gold. Three days earlier, Nicola Adams became the first female boxer to claim an Olympic gold medal. She went on to defend her flyweight title four years later in Rio.

Luke Campbell, Joe Joyce, James DeGale, Audley Harrison, Fred Evans, Amir Khan, Joshua Buatsi, Anthony Ogogo – the list goes on, with Great Britain having picked up 56 Olympic boxing medals over the years.

Fast forward to 2021 and the 11-strong squad heading to Tokyo has the potential to be one of Team GB’s most successful teams in the Japanese capital.

‘I’ve dreamed of Olympic gold every single night for about 10 years’

Frazer Clarke will captain Team GB’s boxing squad of seven men and four women.

The super-heavyweight fighter, 29, has his sights on emulating the golds won by Harrison (2000) and Joshua (2012), something he has dreamed of “every single night for about 10 years”.

After qualifying for Tokyo by beating Turkey’s Berat Acar on points at a European qualifying event in Paris, Clarke returned home to Burton upon Trent to incredible scenes.

“I came back to absolutely floods of people on the streets banging drums and screaming and shouting,” he said.

BBC Radio 5 Live’s Steve Bunce says Clarke was an obvious choice to captain the squad.

“Big Fraze was a massive part of London 2012 and Rio as a cheerleader, even though he could have been the man in the ring getting the gold medal like Joshua or the silver medal like Joyce,” he said.

“Hopefully he’ll get the gold medal in Tokyo. He has added that human love and fun and that ability to warm people up.”

‘I’m paving the way for the mums’

Charley Davison and her three children
Charley Davison took a seven-year break from the ring to start a family

As a teenager, Charley Davison won a European youth gold medal and a world silver. Ten years later, she is heading to the Olympics.

Davison, 27, took a seven-year break from boxing as she started a family. Now she must sacrifice five weeks away from her partner and three children as she realises her Olympic dream.

She said: “It’s a long old time. If I’m going to catch my dream, I’m going to do it. It’s going to take everything but I’m going to do it.

“I still pinch myself now when I go home and my partner says to me ‘you’re an Olympian, you’re actually going to the Olympics’.”

Davison says her oldest son is learning about the Olympics at school and his classmates have been making banners showing their support.

“I’m paving the way for the mums,” she added.

“There’s life after having children, I’ve proved that. If you want something and it’s there for the taking, I just think you have to work that little bit harder.

“I’ve not only boxed again after having kids, I’m down to a new weight, I’m in the GB squad, I’m boxing at the Olympics.

“I’m still the same girl from Lowestoft. The same girl, three kids and now an Olympian.”

He ain’t heavy[weight], he’s my [twin] brother

Pat and Luke McCormack
Twin brothers Pat and Luke McCormack both clinched their GB spot for Tokyo at the European Olympic Qualifiers in Paris

Rio 2016 Olympian Pat McCormack will have twin brother Luke by his side in the squad for Tokyo.

Welterweight Pat is the reigning European champion and secured qualification to Tokyo in style on his 26th birthday by beating Andrey Zamkovoy – the Russian he lost to in the final of the 2019 World Championships. He says having Luke ringside spurred him on.

“I heard my brother shout, ‘make sure, how much do you want it?’ and then I just felt a fire inside me and a release of energy – and I just let it out, roaring like a lion,” he said.

Luke will fight in the lightweight division and is a European championship silver medallist. He beat Turkey’s Tugrulhan Erdemir in the Olympic qualifiers in Paris to take the bronze medal and secure his place in the line-up.

BBC Radio 5 Live’s Mike Costello says Pat is a strong favourite for gold.

“I couldn’t help but be taken by the performance of Pat McCormack,” he said.

“I know it’s an obvious choice because he’s a reigning World Championship silver medallist, but he beat Zamkovoy at that recent European qualifier and he did it with a sharpness and a cleverness that was so impressive.”

From truck driver to Olympian

Heavyweight Cheavon Clarke put his boxing career on hold after a shock defeat at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games while representing Jamaica.

The 30-year-old, born in Montego Bay before moving to south London, spent two years away from the sport and took a truck driving job which he looks back on fondly.

He found his way back into boxing and before long was selected to join Team GB’s squad after switching his sporting allegiance from Jamaica.

He went on to claim silver at the 2017 European Championships, but now it’s all eyes on gold in Tokyo.

“I don’t care about nothing else,” he said.

“They could offer me a million pounds – nope, Olympic medal.”


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