Olympics

Are the Olympic boxers who won a record six medals at Tokyo 2020 the best-ever era of British talent? | Boxing News

What next for golden duo?

“I don’t know about being a leader,” Galal Yafai bashfully told Sky Sports a few days before jetting out to Tokyo. “I’m too quiet to be a leader!”

But the Birmingham flyweight became Team GB’s first boxing gold medallist of the Games on its penultimate day, a stunning feat matched by Wales’ Lauren Price on Sunday.

Lauren Price celebrates Olympic gold
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Lauren Price celebrates Olympic gold

Yafai, whose two older brothers are pro boxers, added the latest glitz to the name of the fighting family of Yemeni heritage. He was a veteran of Rio 2016, big bro Kal had been to Beijing 2008. Shortly before Galal’s first Olympics he was working as a full-time lorry driver.

Multi-sport sensation Price of Ystrad Mynach played 52 times for Wales’ football team and won a kickboxing world title.

Staying on for Paris 2024 remains possible but Yafai is 28, Price is 27.

The professional game will tempt them and they both have a hard-hitting style that could adjust to the new code quickly.

Galal Yafai
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Galal Yafai is an Olympic champion

Those that came before them as recent gold medallists? Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams twice, Luke Campbell and James DeGale all went on to achieve great things as professionals.

Yafai and Price’s faces will be added to the hallowed walls of the Team GB training centre and they could now target the professional success enjoyed by their predecessors.

How will women’s boxing benefit?

This was the first Games where multiple British women took home a medal after Price and Karriss Artingstall‘s heroics.

“The women’s game has come on loads and loads,” said Price. “Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor inspired a massive amount of people.

“The Olympics being shown on TV across the world will have opened a lot of eyes that women can actually box. They are as skilful and technical as the boys.

“Each year it has grown and come on.

“Katie Taylor has done it all. She is a great role model. I look up to her. She is so very humble.

“It is great for women’s sport and I’m excited to be a part of it going forwards.”

The next Olympics, Paris 2024, will feature an additional weight division for women’s boxing.

“Let’s hope more girls get involved,” said Price.

Kellie Harrington
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Ireland’s Kellie Harrington emulated Katie Taylor

Kellie Harrington emulated her Irish compatriot Taylor by winning the lightweight gold medal in Tokyo.

The scenes in Portland Row, Harrington’s hometown, were similar to the celebrations in Price’s local area. The true value of their achievement was to inspire the next generation, as they were inspired by Taylor, Adams and the class of 2012.

Britain’s new heavyweight hope?

Frazer Clarke was the feelgood story – the Team GB super-heavyweight, at last, after 12 years on the squad and two failed attempts to qualify for an Olympics.

As team captain he took home a bronze medal after a brave fight against eventual champion Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan ended early due to a cut above Clarke’s eye, originally sustained when he won his quarter-final.

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Frazer Clarke says he is not worried about turning professional at the age of 30

He was 30 on Saturday when best friend Yafai won gold, he will now turn professional and add his name to the exciting heavyweight division.

“Age isn’t a problem. I don’t need to rush. I’m not in a rush, and I will get better,” he told Sky Sports.

“I’m primed and ready to go in at a good level. I won’t rush, I want to get it right.”

The obvious comparison to make is with Joe Joyce, who kept Clarke out of Rio 2016. Joyce turned pro afterwards as a silver medallist, then aged 30, and now stands on the precipice of a world title shot.

Frazer Clarke
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Frazer Clarke won a bronze medal

Clarke has been close to major title fights before – as a ringside security guard and as a sparring partner to Joshua.

He would watch battling heavyweights inside the ring while doing his day job of keeping the peace at ringside. He would think: “I can beat that guy,” he told Sky Sports.

Now he will get his opportunity, with a full-time trainer and a base the next port of call.

Medal prospect for Paris?

Caroline Dubois, the youngest in the team aged just 20, may fancy another Olympic cycle to target a medal at Paris 2024.

“She can go on to have a great career as a professional,” her brother Daniel, the heavyweight contender, told Sky Sports.

“She can sit down, think clearly, and take her time.”

Caroline Dubois
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Caroline Dubois could target Paris 2024

Youth Olympic champion Dubois briefly shone at these Games and was left visibly shocked by her quarter-final exit. Her fast rise, even to qualify, has been eye-opening and supreme.

Her boxing idol is Claressa Shields, the American who is now a two-division undisputed champion. Shields won gold at London 2012 and at Rio 2016.

Dubois has time on her side to emulate Shields by righting the wrongs of Tokyo in three years’ time.

Whose future will be the most exciting?

Ben Whittaker may have lost his gold medal match but his emotional reaction will have resonated.

Distraught at missing out on gold, he chose not to wear his silver medal on the podium.

Whittaker later acknowledged his own huge success, saying: “When I look back in a few years, it will probably feel like a great achievement, but I was so upset that I couldn’t enjoy it.”

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Ben Whittaker says his competitive spirit did not allow him to appreciate his achievement on the podium.

Pat McCormack, the silver medallist, will go professional and told Sky Sports: “It will take a few years to build into, but if you’re not aiming for a world title then there’s no pointing being in the game.”

He said of his twin Luke: “His dream was never to go to the Olympics. But I was going so he thought: ‘I may as well go!’

“His dream was always to be a professional world champion.”

Peter McGrail, who was eliminated earlier than expected, was highly touted going into the Games and will have a point to prove.

Cheavon Clarke joked to Sky Sports that he only signed up for the Olympics when he found out how much free kit he would receive: “Yo! You get this much kit? You get treated like this?”

The oldest member of the team at 30, Jamaica-born Clarke will have key decisions to make about his future.

Charley Davison‘s remarkable story is set for a new chapter. She took a seven-year break and had three children before returning to the gym just to get fit, and ended up qualifying for the Olympics.




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