Steve Bunce on Boxing: Can Luke Campbell beat curse of gold medallist that turns pro?

His decision could start an exodus of Olympic boxers

Luke Campbell has ditched the sequins, quit the ice and turned professional in a quest to become the first British Olympic boxing champion to win a world title.

Campbell will make his debut in early July at an outdoor venue in his beloved Hull and, after years as an elite amateur boxer, he is expected to be fast-tracked to domestic titles inside a year. In 2008 Campbell became the first English boxer to win the European title in 47 years and he made his Olympic glory last year look easy.

In recent months he has been a star on the celebrity ice-dancing show on television, which included him skating at full speed and holding up and spinning a grown woman above his head. Campbell is a bit special.

Campbell will follow the London 2012 bronze medal winner Anthony Ogogo, who was last seen in tiny gold trunks leaving a 10-metre board in Splash!, into the pro ring. Ogogo fights in Sheffield on Saturday, when Amir Khan, a silver medal winner from Athens, returns to Britain on a bill that is dominated by another pair of Olympic medal winners in Audley Harrison, gold in Sydney, and Deontay Wilder, bronze in Beijing. Wilder is unbeaten in 27 fights with 27 knockouts and is considered the best American heavyweight of what is sadly a disappointing generation of fighters. Aud is just Aud and is close to becoming a sporting treasure.

The curse attached to British gold medal winners going one further and gaining a world title does not include the men who have taken bronze and silver. Richie Woodhall, Robin Reid, Alan Minter and Khan have all won proper championship belts but so far Chris Finnegan, a gold winner in Mexico 1968, and Harrison have failed in world title challenges. If Harrison pulls off a shock and beats Wilder he will get another chance and there is also James DeGale, who won gold in Beijing, and could soon be a leading contender for the super-middleweight title. However, it has to be said that DeGale is third or fourth in Britain at his weight right now.

Minter was cruelly denied a gold medal in 1972 during a boxing tournament in Munich dominated by the hidden agendas of the Cold War warriors who were pulling strings, operating drug cartels and dominating the Games from their bunkers in Berlin. The twisted acts that combined to send Minter out at the semi-final stage belong in redacted espionage documents and not the prize ring.

Finnegan was simply cursed with operating at a time when there were just two sanctioning bodies, not the four that are generally accepted now, and there were also some great champions at light-heavyweight. He fell in round 14 to Bob Foster, arguably the best or second-best light-heavyweight in history.

The decision by Campbell and Ogogo to leave the sanctuary of the elite amateur boxing system, where the funding is both a comfort and a barrier against desperation, could be the start of a worrying exodus of Olympic boxers. Anthony Joshua, the gold medal winner at super- heavyweight, is rumoured to be close to agreeing terms and allegedly has Lennox Lewis as one of his advisors. Meanwhile, the Welsh duo of Andrew Selby and Fred Evans, who won a shock silver, are shopping around for the best offer.

There is a shortage of cash in the professional business right now, but clearly still enough out there to make Campbell and Ogogo walk away from about 70 grand each year, drop their vests and try their luck on the heartless side of the game. Campbell is also chasing that elusive world title and is at a weight where shortcuts are normal. I would have a nifty fifty with a bookie if I liked a flutter.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fund, London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fu...

Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Multicast, Low Latency

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Mul...

Network Infrastructure Engineer

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Infrastructure Engineer (...

Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Multicast)

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Mult...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition