By Andy Squires
London 2012 represented the most successful Olympics in history for British Boxing. The team, under the tutorage of Rob McCracken, won five medals, including three gold’s picked up by Anthony Joshua, Luke Campbell and Nicola Adams in the inaugural Women’s boxing event.
This compares to three medals won in Beijing in 2008 and the solitary silver medal won by Amir Khan in Athens in 2004. It was a great display by both the team of boxers and also all the support staff. However the question that has been posed since the Olympic Flame was extinguished is what happens next?
Olympic victories, while incredible achievements, are by no means a guarantee of professional success in the noble arts. Khan’s silver medal win in 2004 catapulted him into the limelight in a major way, and while world titles did follow at light and super lightweight his career has stalled in recent months with defeats to Danny Garcia and, more controversially, to Lamont Peterson.
Meanwhile James Degale, who picked up the middleweight gold in Beijing, swept aside all challengers until he came up short in a domestic dust-up with George Groves, a fighter who actually lost out in the Olympic selection to Degale. A recent victory for the European middleweight title has gone some way to making amends, however four years on from Beijing and Degale still seems some way off potential world title opportunities.
Some of our most successful professional boxers of recent years didn’t compete at an Olympics and because of that were able to work their way up through the ranks without the increased media expectation that comes with winning a medal. While in some cases success does breed success, once a boxer has stepped out from underneath the protective shell of the ABA the spotlight and attention is very much on them.
As I’m writing it seems that Luke Campbell may be the most likely to step up into the paid ranks, with Anthony Joshua instead choosing to focus on next year’s AIBA world championships, and potentially Rio in 2016. David Price, the Super Heavyweight Bronze medalist from 2008, has been making steady progress since turning professional and his next fight is against the forgotten man of Olympic boxing Audley Harrison.
Nicola Adams is looking forward to defending her European title next year and has also said she is keen to add a world championship gold to her medal collection. Fred Evans and Anthony Ogogo, the other London medalists, are also considering their futures.
One of the main themes of London 2012 was to ‘inspire a generation’ and the hope is that the exploits this summer will go a long way to getting children more involved in sport, aiming towards future success. However it is what the Olympic champions of this year do next which may ultimately prove the most inspirational. Whether it’s in the professional or the amateur ranks the next stage starts now.