Great Britain Boxing’s performance director Rob McCracken, also the trainer of world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, is confident of his team’s chances at an Olympic qualifying event starting in London on Saturday.
‘The Boxing Road to Tokyo’ European qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena will feature 350 men and women from as many as 50 countries, and 77 of them can secure qualification for Tokyo 2020.
Team GB, which has named a team of eight men and five women, has a good boxing record at recent Olympics: a silver and a bronze in 2016, followed three golds, a silver and a bronze in 2012 and one gold and two bronze in 2008.
Getting a Team GB participant in each category is the ultimate goal pre-tournament.
“To have a boxer at each weight division at the Olympics is very difficult, even the top countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Cuba struggle to do that,” McCracken told ESPN.
“It’s tough to get a representative in each weight but that what we are aiming for.”
Great Britain has not always thrived in the Olympic boxing event. In 2004, a 17-year-old Amir Khan was the only British boxer in Athens, and at the two previous Olympics Team GB had just two participants.
“Our boxers have become better over the years, there are better boxers coming through and they are developed well by club coaches and at the national teams,” McCracken added.
McCracken gives ESPN an introduction to the Team GB boxers in action at the qualifying event.
Galal Yafai – Flyweight (52kg)
“Galal is brother to Kal [the former world junior bantamweight champion] and Gamal, both professionals, and he is really experienced. He went to the Rio Games when he had only been on the programme a year. He has steadily progressed and got to the quarterfinals at the World Championships in Russia last year.”
Peter McGrail – Featherweight (57kg)
“He’s a really talented boxer and one of three men in our team who won medals at the 2019 World Championships. He’s into his fifth year with us, and has won numerous medals, including two World Championship bronze medals.”
Luke and Pat McCormack – Light-welterweight (63kg) and Welterweight (69kg)
“Pat won silver at the World Championships. He is the 2019 European Games champion, and his twin Luke is also on the team. It’s remarkable that they have both been able to secure the No. 1 spot in their weight divisions in the Team GB set up.
“They don’t spar together when they are with us though. They are both battle-hardened and robust boxers. They both won a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and train at their club in Birtley when they are not with the Team GB programme in Sheffield.”
Lewis Richardson – Middleweight (75kg)
“Lewis has been part of the GB Boxing squad for two years and only got his chance after Sammy Lee had to pull out injured. Lewis has been in good form recently. He won the test event in Tokyo in October and was excellent in the recent training camp in Kazakhstan where he acquitted himself very well against some top-class boxers.”
Team GB have a boxer entering in every weight category, from flyweight to super-heavyweight, in the European boxing qualifying event in London starting on Saturday. Team GB Boxing
Ben Whittaker – Light-heavyweight (81kg)
“He got a bronze at the World Championships last year and has really impressive footwork. He’s a bit of musician away from boxing and is very popular in the squad.”
Chev Clarke – Heavyweight (91kg)
“Chev has got an interesting story. He ended up with Jamaica at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, then gave up boxing. He came back and got into the Team GB squad after winning everything at national level. He won a silver at the European Championships in 2017 and has pushed on from there. He’s very driven.”
Frazer Clarke – Super-heavyweight (91kg+)
“Big Fraze has been around for a while, he was around when we had Antony Joshua and Joe Joyce as our super-heavyweight at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. He sparred with them for a number of years and he certainly missed out on the Rio Olympics, but he pushed Joe hard for the place.
“He had a couple of bad injuries a few years ago but he got to the quarterfinals at the World Championships last year which indicated to us he is back to where he was. He’s the most experienced member of the team.”
Caroline Dubois – Lightweight (60kg)
“Caroline is only 19, the sister of professional heavyweight Daniel, and there’s a lot of expectation on her. It’s justified. For someone so young, she has physicality and she’s a very talented boxer. She warrants the interest. She won gold at the European Junior Championships, World Youth Championships and the Youth Olympic Games.”
Karris Artingstall – Featherweight (57kg)
“Kariss has been given time off from the Army to concentrate on her boxing career, and she’s one of three women who won a medal at last year’s World Championships. She won a bronze and is in good form.”
Charley Davison – Flyweight (51kg)
“She’s very driven, only joined the programme in January, and as a mother of three she’s an inspiration. She has the same club coach as Anthony Ogogo, who won bronze in 2012, and returned to the ring in the last 18 months after a seven-year break from competitive boxing.”
Rosie Eccles – Welterweight (69kg)
“Rosie is full of life and energy, she’s very fit and is a pressure fighter. She’s won medals, including a bronze at last year’s European Championships, and is in form.”
Lauren Price – Middleweight (75kg)
“Lauren has done everything as an amateur, except win an Olympic medal. She got gold at last year’s World Championships and won gold at the Commonwealth Games two years ago. She boxes at 75kg and is smaller than that, so she brings power and speed.”