Boxing: Gavin's medal lifts hopes of golden age for Olympic hopefuls

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The Independent Online

Frankie Gavin won Britain's first ever gold medal at the World Amateur Boxing Championships when he beat Italy's Domenico Valentino 18-10 in Saturday's lightweight final.

The championships started in 1974 and Saturday's event in Chicago was the 14th – and in the previous 13 British boxers had managed just three bronze medals and one silver medal.

Gavin, 22, from the Hall Green club in Birmingham, fought six times in 10 days and in the semi-final beat the current Olympic and reigning world amateur champion Alexei Tishchenko from Russia 19-10.

In addition to the gold medal, two other English boxers, Bradley Saunders and Joe Murray, won bronze at an event that was also the main qualifier for the Beijing Olympics next year. Gavin, Saunders and Murray qualified for the Olympics as did the light-heavyweight Tony Jeffries.

To put the success into context, at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the Athens Olympics in 2004, Great Britain had a total of five boxers. There will be two more Olympic qualification events next year, one in February in Italy and the last in Greece in May, and it is likely that three or even four boxers could join the quartet from Chicago.

Last year Gavin won the Commonwealth Games lightweight title, but has often had a torrid time in international events. In Chicago he just seemed to find his range and was clearly enjoying each and every contest.

"When I won the quarter-final and knew that I had to beat the Russian to reach the final I just laughed," admitted Gavin. "I had nothing to lose and I was just full of confidence and I think that is the way the whole team feels right now."

At previous world championships British boxers averaged one win at most, but with the increase in funding, and an unwritten deal with professional promoters, there has been a growing level of confidence inside the amateur set-up during the last 12 months.