Boxing: Dreams come true as Anthony Joshua lands gold in final contest of London 2012
Great Britain's Anthony Joshua is the Olympic super-heavyweight champion after just 43 fights and four years in the boxing game.
In the ring yesterday he won the gold, deposing Italy's Roberto Cammarelle, the reigning champion, and completed what can only really be called a modern fairy tale.
Joshua you see, was so far from the Olympic podium a year ago that any suggestion that he would fight at the Olympics, let alone win a gold, was pure fantasy.
"This is a medal for everybody that has ever helped me and for everybody to start their own dream," Joshua said. "I have had to overcome a lot of obstacles but I never stopped dreaming of the Olympic medal. I played it over and over in my mind."
At the end of yesterday's final gold medal clash, which was bout No 272, the scores were identical, stuck at a tantalising 18-18 each. There was a pause as the announcer then added the sentence which most of the 10,000 fans here wanted to hear: "The winner on countback and new..." On countback Joshua was the winner with a score of 56-53.
The Italian cornermen went berserk, screaming and shaking their fists in disgust and the Italian delegation did lodge an official appeal, which was accepted. Thankfully, the decision remained in place after the appeal, which meant that the uncomfortable 15-minute wait for the fans who remained to witness the medal ceremony was not in vain.
"I'm a warrior and I needed a big last round to get this medal round my neck and I had it," said Joshua, who is just 22 and only took up boxing five years ago. "Sunday is a holy day and I was blessed." The Italians said something similar, shouting late into the East End night that their man had been robbed blind; it was close but nobody was mugged in Silvertown yesterday.
Joshua started slowly and looked awkward at times in the opening round. It was no surprise when Cammarelle started the second round in the lead (winning by a point at 6-5), and the veteran of three Olympics, who at 32 was boxing at his last Games, was still winning by 13-10 going into the last.
"I love the last round," joked Joshua, who kept fiddling with his gold medal, seemingly needing to reassure himself that it was actually around his neck and not on the other side of a dream.
Joshua won the last round 8-5 to set in motion both the countback, which will not feature in Rio in four years' time, and scenes of rapture inside the sweaty venue. "It was a close fight and it has made me realise I need more experience at the top level," Joshua admitted. "I will stay amateur and fight at the World Championships. I have time on my side and right now I just want to enjoy this beautiful medal.
The Championships take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, in October next year and Joshua would still only be 24 when they end.
However, it is the end of the road for Cammarelle, who said that he just wanted to go home: "Maybe I want to cry." The big Italian was in good company yesterday as thousands were left weeping once again by the exploits of another athlete in yet one more dramatic win.
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