Great Britain’s medal-winning boxers have been backed to carry their Tokyo 2020 success into the professional ranks by GB Boxing chief executive Matt Holt.
Galal Yafai, Lauren Price, Pat McCormack, Ben Whittaker, Frazer Clarke and Karriss Artingstall all stepped onto the Olympic podium to help Team GB record their best medal performance in boxing at a Games since 1920.
Flyweight champion Yafai, McCormack and Clarke are now set to bid farewell to the amateur scene and try their luck in the pro ranks, with everyone at GB Boxing urging them to achieve even more in the sport.
“If you look at the achievements of Anthony Joshua since he was on the GB Boxing programme and Joe Joyce as well, our boxers are well schooled,” Holt told the PA news agency.
“They have been well schooled under the tutelage of Rob McCracken and a great coaching team, so it puts them in a great position to go on and achieve in the pro ranks.
“It is one of the particularities of our sport that we have to regenerate our squads once every four years because we know a lot of the boxers will have their eye on the professional ranks to better themselves, but we celebrate that as part of our success as well.
“We have played an important part in the journey through the development of the coaching and the competitive opportunity, so whenever a boxer moves into the pro ranks we always have a keen eye on what they do and an interest in them doing well because they provided that inspiration for the next group of boxers coming through and become great ambassadors for GB Boxing.”
The challenge for Holt and GB Boxing performance director McCracken, who will be in Joshua’s corner for his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight title bout with Oleksandr Usyk on September 25, is to replace the likes of gold-medallist Yafai, McCormack and Clarke when the Olympics roll into Paris in 2024.
With a year less to prepare due to the Tokyo Games being delayed by 12 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it provides further challenges for GB Boxing.
But Holt insisted: “We have some talented boxers coming through the system who we are preparing for Paris in three years’ time. We have got a challenge, like all Olympic sports, because that preparation has been reduced by a year.
“We have to try to accelerate the development of the athletes coming through so when we get to 2024 they have the right level of competitive experience to compete effectively, but we have got the boxers, we have got the staff to do it, so we are confident we can go on and achieve again in Paris.”
A huge part of the GB Boxing operation is the vastly experienced McCracken, who despite his commitments with heavyweight champion Joshua is set to continue leading the next generation of fighters in the sport.
“Rob loves being a part of the programme and enjoys the company of the boxers, enjoys the company of the staff and the challenge of the work,” Holt added.
“My expectation is Rob will still be our PD by the time Paris comes around. It wouldn’t be the same environment without him, that’s for certain.
“It is just an enormous privilege to work with somebody who has that mercurial talent. The way he manages the team of staff and the way he manages the team of boxers is outstanding. He is a great leader with great credibility and integrity.
“He spreads that professionalism and ability around the team, so his leadership is one of the core components of what we have achieved over the last decade.”
Holt was in particular delighted to see “stalwart of the team” Clarke complete his Olympics journey with bronze in the super-heavyweight category while also performing his captain duties with “real gusto” in Tokyo.
Meanwhile Yafai and Price were praised as “inspiring role models” during a Games where Team GB’s group of 11 boxers were able to exceed expectation following a challenging 18 months.
“To have our best Olympic medal haul since 1920 is really something else, with over 50 per cent of the team coming back with a medal, and it has been a tremendous effort,” Holt said.
“We knew we had a very talented group of boxers, that was evident from the performances delivered over the course of the cycle, but I don’t think anybody should underestimate how difficult competing at an Olympics in boxing is.
“It is an incredibly competitive sport, there is a huge number of competitive nations, so it is really difficult to win a medal in boxing.
“We always had to temper that expectation and understanding of the talent on the team with the reality of how difficult it is and that shows ever further what a tremendous performance the team delivered.
“Beyond the medals – which are obviously vitally important to us as an organisation and to the boxers themselves – it is about the inspiration they give to the next group of athletes coming through, whether they are already on the journey to the Olympic podium or just watching on television.”
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