Search

Hackney heavyweight targets Olympic gold medal

PUBLISHED: 12:29 07 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:29 07 July 2016

Stoke Newington heavyweight Lawrence Okolie, who has been selected for the GB Olympic squad

Stoke Newington heavyweight Lawrence Okolie, who has been selected for the GB Olympic squad

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Lawrence Okolie has qualified for the Olympics after just 23 amateur bouts – but the Stoke Newington fighter will only be happy if he wins gold in Rio.

Okolie, who was unable to watch the majority of London 2012 as he was working in McDonald’s, was inspired when he saw fellow heavyweight Anthony Joshua become an Olympic champion four years ago.

The 23-year-old, a psychosocial studies student at the University of East London, only began boxing in 2010 as a way of losing weight after tipping the scales at almost 18 stone.

He completed his transformation to gold medal contender when he qualified for Team GB in April – and Okolie’s eyes are firmly fixed on success in Brazil, despite his relative inexperience.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself because I want the gold medal. If I don’t win then my life will still continue but I am focused,” he said. “Training is going well. There are still a few weeks to refine things.

“There are some things I am working on that can hopefully give me an edge. I am inexperienced but I feel I soak up information quicker than someone who is more experienced.

“I could imagine this last year but I could never see it. But putting the kit on was crazy. When I started boxing, there was not an end goal or a plan – I just liked the training.

“I had been boxing for a couple of years but I was working in McDonald’s in the summer of 2012 so I didn’t get to see any of the Games.

“Then I saw Anthony Joshua and Usain Bolt win Olympic gold so it was then that I thought ‘this is possible’. To be given an opportunity now is amazing.”

Okolie, who originally honed his skills at Repton BC and now represents Dagenham, was part of the British Universities & Colleges Sport team at the World University Games in 2014, when he won a gold medal.

And the boxer firmly believes that his experiences with BUCS have helped to get him ready for his Olympic bow next month.

“BUCS prepared me for this,” Okolie added. “I had world-class training facilities at the University of East London. We had sports therapists, strength and conditioning rooms and people who looked after us.

“So in terms of a set-up, it prepared me for Team GB because everything was so professional: the training, the preparation, the fights themselves.

“Getting in the ring with so little experience in a big competition is a big part of why I am going to Rio.

“When I transitioned to the GB set-up, I had the experience of fighting for someone.

“At uni, I was fighting for the university. Now I’m fighting for Britain and I have the public behind me – it is very similar. Without BUCS, I wouldn’t have qualified so quickly.”

British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports.

Supported by Deloitte, BUCS offers programmes to athletes from a grassroots level through to Commonwealth and Olympic Games hopefuls. Visit www.bucs.org.uk for more information.

Latest Hackney Stories

18:00

Ultra-marathon hero Kevin Webber was presented with a cheque for £150,000 after completing seven walking marathons in seven days

The Chilean praised Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino ahead of the capital clash

14:00

Clapton manager Jonny Fowell says they will not worry about the threats Sporting Bengal pose, but insists they will have to shut down former Tons striker Jay Knight.

13:00

West Ham United return to action in the Premier League on Saturday when they welcome fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur to the London Stadium.

A teenager has been found guilty of “hunting” and murdering Israel Ogunsola with a knife in central Hackney.

Mauricio Pochettino and Harry Kane urge Spurs to kick on following record-equalling league start

Two east London clubs will go head-to-head at the Mile End Stadium this evening

Wembley Stadium plays host to the second of its three NFL games of the season on Sunday and fans will be hoping that they are treated to a better game than last week’s one-sided contest between the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders.



Newsletter Sign Up

Hackney Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read sport

Show Job Lists