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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
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

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot