Hackney boxer aims to seize his Olympic opportunity

Lawrence Okolie (left) celebrates a win for GB Lionhearts

Lawrence Okolie (left) celebrates a win for GB Lionhearts - Credit: Archant

Stoke Newington’s Lawrence Okolie can turn his Olympic dream into a reality this week as he fights to secure a place at the Games in Rio.

The University of East London student has been selected by GB Boxing for the first Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey, after a triumphant GB Lionhearts debut in January.

Okolie will qualify automatically for the Games if he finishes in the top three in his heavyweight (91kg) division, with the competition beginning on Saturday in the coastal city of Samsun.

The 23-year-old has been studying for a degree in psychosocial studies at UEL but, with the university’s agreement, he has deferred his course to concentrate on qualifying for the Olympics.

“My preparations have been good,” said Okolie. “We’re all training hard. My mind is firmly on the event.

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“We all have hopes and dreams but for those to happen you need opportunities, so I feel happy and blessed that I’ve been given the opportunity to keep my Olympic dream alive.

“It would be a dream come true. I’d be proud and happy, not just for me but for everyone that’s supported me – my family, my friends and my university.”

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Just being in contention for an Olympic berth is an extraordinary feat for Okolie, who only took up the sport in 2010 with the initial aim of losing weight.

Currently training full-time in Sheffield with the rest of the GB squad, Okolie demonstrated his potential for the Lionhearts in Miami, where he won a split decision over American star Cam Awesome.

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