Chill-out time needed for Anthony Ogogo and GB’s Olympic boxers, says Rob McCracken
Archant © 2012
Boxing chief Rob McCracken has told Lowestoft fighter Anthony Ogogo and the rest of his Team GB squad to take time out between their bids for London 2012 glory – that is, if they can actually get about.
Ogogo is one of six GB boxers guaranteed a medal at the Excel Arena’s Olympic boxing hall, in what have been exhilarating but intense surroundings – a list including Nicola Adams, Luke Campbell, Freddie Evans, Anthony Joshua and Thomas Stalker.
Friday afternoon is Ogogo’s semi-final shot at Brazilian third seed Esquiva Falcao Florentino, where he could move his colour up from bronze to silver – while maintaining his bid for gold.
In the meantime, McCracken wants his boxers to get out and chill out – and take in their new status.
“They have got to relax and switch off from boxing,” said McCracken. “They can’t just sit in the village thinking about their fights because it will drive them crazy. We’ve been going over to Westfield (shopping centre) for a walk around for an hour or two. The last thing I want is them lying on their beds doing nothing all week. They’re not used to doing that in Sheffield. They’re active, so they need to be active here.
“You’ll see a lot of our boxers out walking around the village and you’ll probably bump into them in the shopping centre. They’re a great bunch and it’s just keeping active.
“I think they love getting recognised too. It’s a bit overdue, that with the public they get a bit of recognition and they’re starting to become stars.
“I walked through the shopping centre with Anthony Ogogo and it was a joke. He got stopped every 10 seconds and you couldn’t even dream of doing it with big Joshua because you just wouldn’t get anywhere.
“It’s nice the public have worked out who they are now and they are getting a bit of attention. And they love it too – it’s fantastic.”
McCracken reserved special praise for Lowestoft’s Ogogo, who has knocked down every obstacle placed in front of him to become at least an Olympic bronze medallist – the highlight of which was his stunning majority decision win over top seed Ievgen Khytrov last week, before a more comfortable night with Stefan Hartel secured a medal.
“Anthony has had a tough, tough draw – most of ours have,” said McCracken. “Beating the world champion, who won the Worlds in Azerbaijan where no one gave him a fight to be honest, and then for Ogogo to hold his own against him and edge him and doing enough – and we all thought he did enough – it was a remarkable performance.
“Especially with the journey he’s had, with the shoulder and the injury, obviously his mum being really unwell was a really big problem for him and he’s come through that and his mum is on the mend, thank god.
“So to see him round it off with an Olympic medal was just brilliant.
“He has fought three really good fighters here. Beating the world champion was some effort, so then to go and beat the German the other night and under heavy pressure again, was tremendous for him. It’s just great to see him get there.
“It’s his first major medal and he’s been unfortunate a couple of times at Worlds and Euros but it’s happened for him here and he’s got it right. I think he’s boxed really well all through the tournament – as well as I’ve seen him.
“His speed, his movement has been excellent. His defence has been great. He’s been under heavy pressure and he has stood up to it.
“He has shown there’s a bit more to him than just boxing. He can tough it out as well and I think you need to have a little bit of everything here to win a medal, and he’s certainly got that. It’s just really pleasing to see him do so well.”
McCracken admitted the home Excel crowd is helping his medal-winning boxers drive on.
“The atmosphere is unbelievable,” he added. “You can’t help but get caught up in it. The crowd is enormous, they get right behind the GB boxers and it’s fantastic for the boxers to be boxing at home with a crowd like that. It spurs them on .”