Josh Buatsi runs rule over Team GB’s 11 Tokyo 2020 boxing hopefuls looking to follow in Anthony Joshua’s footsteps
JOSH BUATSI knows the Team GB boxing squad inside out and is expecting big things in Japan.
The 2016 Rio bronze medallist is now a hot property in the pro ranks but still trains occasionally at the GB gym in Sheffield, including sparring with some of the team.
Josh Buatsi runs the rule over Team GB’s boxing hopes out in Tokyo[/caption]
Ahead of his own August 14 fight with Ricards Bolotniks on DAZN, the 14-0 ace runs the rule over our 11-strong Tokyo team…
CAROLINE DUBOIS (lightweight, 20)
Doing well at youth level is very different to doing it at senior but Caroline’s pulling it off amazingly well.
The whole family is incredibly talented with Daniel a heavyweight pro and former British champion, and younger siblings Prince and Solomon boxing now as schoolboys.
I always remember hearing rumours of this girl who was the undefeated Youth Olympics, world and European champion and thinking it wasn’t physically possible.
Until I met her I never really believed she was a real person!
Caroline has come into senior boxing and not just hung in or competed, she has beaten top women.
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Caroline Dubois has already impressed everyone in the youth tournaments[/caption]
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CHEAVON CLARKE (heavyweight, 30)
Chev is my guy. He’s absolutely dedicated inside and outside of boxing, constantly trying to improve health, fitness and technique.
In lockdown he had me trying new sports and games just to stay extra-fit.
He is the most vibrant individual anyone on Team GB has ever met. We questioned if it was fake at the beginning!
What sort of person can be happy-hyper for 7am track work? We all aspire to be more like him.
Buatsi describes Cheavon Clarke as ‘the most vibrant individual anyone on Team GB has ever met’[/caption]
CHARLEY DAVISON (flyweight, 27)
Taking seven years out to have three babies and then coming back to reach an Olympic Games is insane.
Sometimes I take a couple of minutes to sit in the corner of the gym and just watch her and think, ‘How on Earth has she done what she has done?’
After that amount of time out and dedication to your young family, it would be an achievement to come back and box on your local club show, yet she is going to Tokyo.
Charley is a Superwoman and her children, family and country can be so proud of her.
Charley Davidson took time out to have three children – but is now back with a bang[/caption]
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GALAL YAFAI (flyweight, 28)
A shout-out to Mrs Yafai, who has given birth to three boys who have all boxed at international level.
Gamal has been European champ as a pro and Kal is a former Olympian and world champion, too.
This is Gal’s second Olympics. He does not make a fuss about anything, he is quietly confident in everything he does.
He is quite like myself in that he does not say a lot but he likes to be very precise and to the point in and out of the ring.
Galal Yafai has two boxing brothers – but is making his own waves[/caption]
BEN WHITTAKER (light-heavy, 24)
If there is anyone to replace me in the 81kg category it is Ben.
Leading up to my Games I only had a European medal and for these Games Ben is going with Commonwealth, European and world medals, so he is more than ready.
Ben helped me prepare for 2016. I used to spar him and could never hit him!
If we did 100 rounds, I’d be lucky to hit him in three of those. I would be pleased with it.
Ask anyone on the team and they will tell you Ben is so hard to hit and pin down.
Buatsi says Ben Whittaker is one of the most elusive boxers he has faced[/caption]
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KARRISS ARTINGSTALL (featherweight, 26)
I remember walking into the gym and seeing this tall southpaw sparring very aggressively, landing heavy shots, and it shocked me.
Karriss has come from the Army and that is how she fights. Every round and punch is important to her but she is also technically very sound.
She hasn’t been on the programme for as long as a lot of the others so when she landed bronze at the 2019 worlds, it came out of nowhere.
But it was the result of raw hunger and that is what I see every time she fights.
Karriss Artingstall has comfortable stepped up to international level from being an army boxer[/caption]
FRAZER CLARKE (super-heavy, 29)
If there is anyone who has paid a price to be part of Team GB, not just boxing, it is Big Fraze.
With the squad for more than ten years now, not going to Rio really hurt him — but he was pleased Joe Joyce got his silver and he stayed on the grind for 2020.
I remember telling him not to let anyone else come in and take his place. I knew it was going to be hard but he did it.
The captain’s role is not something people really talk about or organise but it completely suits him.
Frazer Clarke is the Team GB captain[/caption]
LAUREN PRICE (middleweight, 27)
I first watched Lauren at the 2014 Commonwealths in Scotland and was instantly impressed.
She did well at 69kg but felt confident enough to go up to 75kg and just worked even harder.
When you are the world No 1 at anything it tends to make you a bit louder or over-confident but Lauren has always seemed very humble.
I remember messaging her when she became No 1 to tell her she was making history and Lauren has continued to add to that legacy.
Lauren Price is the world ranked No1 middleweight[/caption]
LUKE McCORMACK (lightweight, 26)
A very talented boxer, I’m glad he qualified and received his own individual recognition as his twin brother Pat has probably got most of the plaudits previously.
Luke has put in the time and paid his dues when he has not got the limelight and attention.
His brother just happens to be the best welterweight in the world but Luke now has the chance to write his own story as well.
Luke McCormack is making great strides at lightweight[/caption]
PAT McCORMACK (welterweight, 26)
I never see Pat and Luke clash. Even when one of them is in the wrong they always back each other!
Pat came to the 2016 Games with me and lost to a Cuban in a fight I felt he had won.
To be ranked No 1 in the world at welterweight — where so many of the top Cubans and Eastern Europeans compete — is some achievement on its own.
No one can out-box or out-think Pat. It’s impossible.
Pat McCromack is ranked No 1 in the world at welterweight[/caption]
PETER McGRAIL (featherweight, 25)
Getting labelled the Liverpool Lomachenko could be too heavy a burden for an amateur fighter.
But Pete has no problem being compared to Ukraine’s two-time Olympic gold winner.
I’ve often asked Pete, ‘How do you do what you do?’ because I don’t believe his style can be taught.
Some of the things he can do are crazy and I’ll never understand how he does things so naturally. I’ve studied him and never got close to understanding.
Pete came to the 2016 Games to help out with sparring and get the experience — and that was a masterstroke by Team GB because a lot of those guys popped up four years later.
Peter McGrail came to the 2016 Games to help out with sparring and get the experience[/caption]
I couldn’t sign off without a mention for LEWIS RICHARDSON (middleweight), 24, who won the Tokyo test event but just missed out on qualifying after drawing the world No 1 from Ukraine, Oleksandr Khyzniak.
Khyzniak is a guy with more than 100 amateur bouts who I beat in 2016 for my Olympic spot up at light-heavy, so I know he is a strong and very experienced dude.
Lewis dedicated himself just as much as anyone else and remains an integral part of the team.
JOSH BUATSI was talking to WALLY DOWNES Jr.
Will any of this Team GB crop bring home the gold like Anthony Joshua did in 2012?[/caption]
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Based in Johannesburg, Brian Derenberger is a Senior Editor at Healthy Organic Lifestyle.