Monday, 6 August 2012
Does Olympic Gold = World Champion?
By Gary Alder (@garyalder321).
With Team GB well within the medal hunt in the boxing not only for the men but now the women as well, I take a look at some of the greats throughout history and does this mean our possible gold medallists have a bright future?
One thing is for sure, it will certainly attract the attention of some keen promoters. If we look as recent as the Beijing games for Great Britain, we see the rise of stars such as David Price, a heavyweight fighter already being lined up for a potential title fight with Wladmir Klitschko. Another name of note is James Degale, a gold medallist in Beijing remaining undefeated until that fateful night with George Groves, a rivalry which I’m sure will re-new itself at world title level. Then we have the unfortunate likes of Bronze medallist Tony Jeffries, plagued by injuries, cuts and poor performances against low opposition. He has always been that draw in Sunderland but like other fighters struggle to find the TV and arena audiences outside home town fights. Even the likes of David Price are resided to the fact that his Liverpool fan base is what is going to keep money going into his pocket, whilst creating an exciting atmosphere for himself and the viewing public.
History shows us every weight division has a special name to list:
Sugar Ray Leonard – Light Welterweight
Cassius Clay – Light Heavyweight
Michael Spinks – Middleweight
Joe Frazier – Heavyweight
Oscar De La Hoya - Bantamweight
George Foreman – Heavyweight
Lennox Lewis – Super Heavyweight
Wladmir Klitschko – Super Heavyweight
All these great names went on to transcend the sport.
So does the Olympics prepare you for life after amateur boxing? I think it definitely provides the goal and determination to achieve that gold medal, which takes a similar kind of drive to achieve that world title. It’s no coincidence that so many medallists go on to achieve a world title, the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Amir Khan who did not get that all illusive gold medal still go on to become unified world champions.
However it cannot prepare you for the lows of professional boxing. It is so rare to see an amateur fight dominated in the way a professional bout is, eventually ending with the career ruining knock out.
The gold medal is a step to stardom, the likes of which Andre Ward has recently felt, a tournament like the super six is built for an athlete such as Ward to compete against the best. Of course Andre has superior skills but that experience of going all the way to that gold medal match can only give you confidence.
Britain has much more of a tendency to celebrate our gold medallists and throw them into the fire and if they don’t come up smelling of roses, we lose patience. One name being Audley Harrison. Audley was one of our biggest successes post Olympics. He went on a few years undefeated but as soon as the real challenges came his way he folded. All culminating in that poor show against David Haye, and now the calls are for him to retire.
A gold medal can get you noticed, it can give a boxer that platform. That connection to the wider audience who watched the games in some foreign land. This time it is different. The games are in London. If a boxer can shine on this stage, they are setting their careers up for a nice pay day when they turn professional. Does this mean they will be world champion within 6 years? No it certainly doesn’t, but if they win the gold, keep that same drive and ambition that won them the gold, there is certainly no reason why they can’t become world champions (and millionaires in the process).
One thing is for sure though, With our recent history of turning medals into titles, Britain expects……