Bunce on Boxing: Talented trio prove Team GB are medal contenders for 2012

Anthony Joshua, Andrew Selby and Luke Campbell will win medals at the 2012 Olympics to continue the unlikeliest of sporting revolutions. On Sunday afternoon the trio returned, with nine other members of Great Britain's elite boxing team, from the World Amateur Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. They each had a silver medal and Tommy Stalker had a bronze to complete a quartet of brilliance.

There was a time when the British were spared the painful shame and not even sent to the World Championships. A quick look at international matches in 1971, 1981 and 1991 reveals that a total of 23 internationals took place and that England's squad managed just seven wins. There were no medal winners at the World Championships during the period. The Brits were, make no mistake, the whipping boys of world boxing. I once heard the senior coach prepare his team of pure amateurs to fight East Germany with the line: "Don't worry, I will have the towel ready when you get in trouble." The towel is used as a tool of surrender.

In Baku, British boxers qualified for the Olympics in five weights and that means the head coach, Robert McCracken, still has a problem; he now has to pick his final five boxers from a list of about 12 for the last Olympic qualifier in Istanbul next spring. McCracken, his full-time staff and full-time squad of as many as 33 boxers, have changed the face of the sport.

Joshua, Selby and Campbell will not be the only medal winners next year.



Hopkins legend lives on

As a boy, Bernard Hopkins's street crimes were so numerous, his use of violence so casual, that when he was sent to prison, he went to the notorious Graterford prison near Philadelphia. Hopkins survived life on the inside by acting "damn crazy"; he resumed boxing in the penitentiary system and the rest is history.

Hopkins left Graterford with nothing. "See you soon, Bernard," the most feared guard told him. He was 23, had no skills and was soon back on the streets in the middle of the crack wars. Hopkins washed dishes, trained at night and ignored the easy money. "It's harder to say no," he told me.

Hopkins is now 46. He knows presidents, his community adores him and political office is possible. However, he's still fighting. He won his first world title in 1995 at a time when there were still three years left of his savage 10-year parole. That means to men like Hopkins – black, poor, uneducated and living in a torched city – that one single mistake and he would be back behind bars. "That was my life for 10 years." What chance did he really have? Well, on Saturday, in his 61st fight, he defends his WBC light-heavyweight title against Chad Dawson, a former champion who is 17 years younger. It will be his 28th world title fight. Try to watch him before he does finally call it a day, because you will be watching a living legend.

Oh yeah, and there is a 60-foot mural of Hopkins inside the prison's gym. It's beyond Hollywood.



Who needs TV?

Little Dave Coldwell is a classic survivor in the boxing business; he's been there, seen it, sold it, bought it and is still working with a lot of people.

As a fighter he was a product of Brendan Ingle's unorthodox gym in Sheffield. However, as a promoter he has done it on his own.

On 26 November he is putting on a show at the Magna Centre in Rotherham without television. It features Ryan Rhodes, last seen on Sky TV losing a world title fight in Mexico, and the former England Under-21s footballer Curtis Woodhouse. There is also the return of former British champion David Barnes, who has been going AWOL since his teenage years in the army. He can, thankfully, fight a bit.

"People told me that this business is crazy, full of liars and has long hours. They lied, there is nothing wrong with the hours," said Coldwell.

Thanks for that, little Davey.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Morgana Robinson
arts + entsIt is not easy interviewing Morgana Robinson. Here's why...
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin