London 2012 medallist Anthony Ogogo meets sportindustry.biz at a Boxing Club in West Ham to discuss the impact and legacy of the Olympic Games, his role as a Coca Cola GB Legacy Ambassador, and life as a professional boxer.
Tell us about the Olympic initiative you've been involved in?
StreetGames and Coca Cola have an initiative that sees them take sport around the country so it’s accessible for underprivileged children who wouldn’t normally have the money to go out to a local boxing club. Even the clubs that run on a shoestring, for some people, £3 or £4 every week really adds up. So it’s a great initiative that gets underprivileged kids into sport, give them a taster of it, and prolong the Olympic legacy.
The Olympic Stadium is down the road, a good place to start?
Yes without a doubt, East London is a special place anyway, but because of the Olympics last year it is always going to have a special place in my heart. It’s a place I’m proud to come back to and say I was a part of that incredible sporting summer last year.
You mentioned the word legacy, there has been a bit of scepticism even around that word itself. How important is it to you as an athlete?
I think it’s really important, as an old man I want to be able to watch the TV and see Britain dominate and that’s only going to happen if London 2012 can inspire people from this generation to go on.
It’s a knock on effect. When the Olympians of the future compete in 19 years they will inspire the 10 year-olds watching so it’s going to go on and on. So for me it’s imperative. Having fun, which is part of this initiative, is the most important thing first and foremost and trying things you never would have tried otherwise.
You’re a Coca Cola GB Legacy Ambassador, what does that role involve?
Coca Cola were one of the main sponsors of the Games and they were keen to continue with the Olympic legacy, pumping a lot of money into London 2012 and they are still doing things like StreetGames to get kids into sport. For whatever reason, some other sponsors have decided to pull out, so for that reason I'm very proud to be an ambassador for them.
This week marks the one year anniversary from the Games, for you personally, it has been a massive 12 months?
You're right, it’s been a massive 12 months! It’s been very enjoyable. I want to crack on, I’m a pro boxer, with three wins and two knockouts so I want to just keep going now, keep progressing and keep getting better. I got a bronze medal at the Olympics last year which is good but not the best, so I want to make sure that I use that drive and harness it in my pro career to reach the very top this time. It's the start of a very exciting chapter for me.
So what’s the end of this chapter?
The end of this chapter is to be regarded as one of, if not the best, middleweight boxer ever to come out of Britain. I want to be the best middleweight I can possibly be, the best boxer on the planet.
And to make this happen you're off to see Bernard Hopkins?
Yep. Bernard was in Atlantic City when I boxed over there in May and he is really keen for me to spend some time with him. I think Bernard sees a little bit of him when he first turned pro in me – a lot of skill and ability, which just needs to be harnessed and moulded. He said he would love to do that for me.
He is someone I look up to, I’ve watched his fights and boy he can fight. I think of him like Ryan Giggs, a speedy winger who reinvigorated and adapted his game with age. Bernard can teach me how to use a bit more skill and know-how when needed, find another level. Someone like him can teach me anything.
Even if he tells me the same things that have come from somebody else, the fact that it has come from his mouth, I know I would probably be more inclined to take it on board.
Finally, can we expect to see you fighting in East London anytime soon?
I would love to, I love boxing in Britain. The reception I got when I have fought here has been brilliant. I would love to keep boxing in Britain, but I know I need to box in America in order to improve and gain experience, and that’s where the big fights happen.
That may happen down the line, but for the time being I want to fight in Britain as much as possible. The crowd support when you walk out or hit a good shot – that’s what I’m in the game for.