July 29 2014 Latest news:
Michael Bailey , London Olympics correspondent
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Team GB boxing chief Rob McCracken has backed Lowestoft fighter Anthony Ogogo to deliver on the promise he made when the pair first got down to work together – earning an Olympic medal.
Ogogo’s journey to take his place among the hosts’ strong boxing squad was fraught, with a race against time to recover from shoulder surgery and qualify for the Games.
And once he achieved that, the health of his ill mother had left him questioning whether he would be able to compete at the Games at all.
It is a situation McCracken can appreciate. Training Carl Froch ahead of his clash with Jean Pascal for the vacant WBC super middleweight belt in 2008, McCracken was beside his mother as she died on the morning of the fight after a long illness. By the evening, his man was world champion.
Fortunately the latest news surrounding Ogogo’s mum is more positive – and that will give him the best chance of success in his men’s middleweight 75kg division.
Friday’s draw saw Ogogo paired with Dominican Republic’s Junior Castillo Martinez in his first-round bout on Saturday – before world champion and number one seed Ievgen Khytrov awaits in round two.
“Anthony is in good spirits – his mum’s health has picked up a little bit, so that has really helped,” said McCracken. “There’s a funny story about Anthony. I sat in the office three years ago when I came in here and thought he was a bit short at the heavier weight. I’d seen him before so I gave him a call and told him to come in for a trial.
“It was his birthday so he said what a birthday present it was – and, ‘By the way, I’m going to win a medal at the Olympics’. This is all on that phone call, and it was all genuine.
“So I often sit back and wonder whether when he didn’t qualify in Azerbaijan when his shoulder came away from the bone after defeat to the Russian pre-tournament favourite, if that phone call had anything in it.”
A five-month fitness race was won to leave one shot at London 2012 qualification – and Ogogo delivered. Now McCracken wants him to finish his own fairytale.
“He went and qualified in Turkey and it was great work from the medical team to get the shoulder right,” said McCracken. “We just about got there and it was a very difficult place for him to go to qualify. There were only two places to aim for and he gets to the final and wins the final comfortably.
“So he is here, and he is happy at the moment.
“And hopefully he will push on and complete the rest of the story by winning a medal.”