I've never been a fan of endings.
When they re-released titanic last year I wanted to leave the cinema after Jack and Rose got it on in the back if that car, knowing what was to come. And although I was glad Rachel got off the plane and got back together with Ross I didn't want Friends to end. For me saying goodbye to a place which had pretty much been my full time home for the previous 3 years was hard. It was a decision I had to make but it was saddening all the same.
After the Olympics its almost nailed on that boxers, particularly from the western world, sign on the dotted line and turn professional. This is something I'll go into more detail when I have my press conference announcing my decision to turn pro and joining Golden Boy Promotions. That's on the 16th of January so look out for that and check out my website.
But for now this is goodbye to GB Boxing, the British Olympic Association and the amateur game, and a thank you to everyone that has helped me on my way to this point.
Firstly I can't thank Triple A Boxing club enough. Big John Cremin (pictured above) has been the focal point of the club for as long as I can remember. With Frank Bacon by his side they've done wonders to so many kids in the area. Teaching them discipline and giving them direction, like so many amateur boxing coaches do around the country. I love the club and its very much a part of me as I am of it.
Everyone at GB Boxing has been amazing to me. If you look at our... Or should I say their results in the last 4 years you wouldn't believe how much the performances have spiked.
Boxing is a hard game, the toughest sport there is. Travelling around the world fighting tough, hardened men, a lot of them from poor countries that have nothing else other than boxing. It's their way out of poverty. I for one would much rather box a well to do Australian or German rather than a spiteful Kazahk or Cuban who has came from nothing and if they don't perform well they are back working 18 hour days for peanuts, that's the reality of it.
8 years ago, the phenomenal talent of Amir Khan was the only representative in Athens, this year we had 10 representatives. Including world champions, European champions (Luke Campbell), and captain Tom Stalker who was the reigning world number 1 and had won everything in the previous 3 years. Under the current regime we have become a superpower of world amateur boxing. We are that strong of a nation now that good friend of mine Khalid Yafai qualified whilst representing England and Welshman Andrew Selby qualified at the same weight. Obviously as we are Great Britain only one of them could go and unfortunately for Kal, Selby won in a box off. We are that good of a nation we can qualify multiple people at each weight if we were allowed.
That's not by luck, its because GB Boxing is such a well run organisation. With great people at the helm, amazing coaches, brilliant support staff and with absolutely world class facilities. It makes it a very tough programme to leave.
I joined the podium squad as a wide eyed, enthusiastic and talented 21 year old and I've left a tougher, stronger more intelligent world class athlete. I'm not blowing my own trumpet *insert euphemism*, I know I have a long way to go. I've got a lot of headroom to progress and become better, of which I will do, and I'm as wide eyed and enthusiastic now to start this new challenge.
Rob McCracken our Performance Director deserves all the credit and accolades going. I was made up for him when I saw he had been honoured in The Queens New Years Honours List. He's assembled the most professional set up in amateur boxing. He's the head of it all and although he shies away from attention he definitely deserves it.
I alluded to it earlier, the coaches on the squad are world class. Dave Alloway recently won the Amateur International Boxing Association coach of the year, being recognised by the world governing body is something that's never happened before. In Dave the squad has someone that cares so much. Dave knows every single amateur boxer in the top ten in each weight category. His knowledge is extensive. He doesn't just know the boxers or their styles he knows how to beat them and will drill in to you the smallest details. If someone has a problem they go to Dave. I can think of 2 times off the top of my head he's given the most inspirational speeches I've ever heard. Hollywood stuff. Once on the track 6 weeks before the world championships. Needless to say I ran like Mo Farah that day and another time at the end of a tough training camp in France, he told us all how proud of us he was and that from Dave is a big thing. I think he had a lump in his throat too. But he's a great boxing coach and the younger lads coming through can and will learn a lot from him.
Lee Pullen who I had the pleasure of working most closely with on the squad. He, like Dave is a brilliant coach. Ahead of his time. Very innovative. His work ethic is brilliant and someone that I have learned so much from. There are some people in life that you just seem to click with immediately. I'm pleased to say that Richard Schaefer CEO of Golden Boy is one of them, and Lee is another. Lee has this great positive outlook on life, he made me feel 10 foot tall walking to the ring. When I boxed Indian superstar Vijender Singh at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, we'd both never been in an environment that hostile. But he kept telling me that there was no way I was going to lose. He told me that 1 billion Indians were going to be left disappointed among other things. By the time the bell went I went straight to work and was victorious like he said.
More than just staff at GB Boxing I'd like to think that I've become friends with them all. None more so than Lee, when I've been down and injured. When my Olympics looked like they were never going to happen, when my Mum was seriously ill and we didn't know her fate Lee was always there telling me I was going to win a medal. He never lacked confidence and that confidence spread to me.
The other coaches too are great, Bob Dillon, Paul, Nigel. As too is the S+C coach Ian Pyper. Being in peak physical shape and being technically sound is half the battle. Being mentally prepared is the other and I'm lucky to have lead Sports Psyc Pete Lindsay to talk to and play the metaphorical violin to on many occasions. He's been brilliant and I wish him well on his future endeavours, Chris Marshall is now the top dog in all matters psychological. The boys and girls on the squad are in great hands with him.
Mark Ellison our nutritionist has a tough job of getting our weight off whilst keeping us fit, fast and strong. Nobody failed the weight at any tournament I've been to. Nobody got sent home from the Olympics like in the past and everyone has performed so, that's testament to how good he is at what he does.
I'm not going to lie, I'm a fan of the physio bed. I've been known to spend an hour or two on there over the course of a weeks training camp. The medical team deal with a load of hypochondriacs, work long hours and travel a lot. I for one am thankful for their help, they've bandaged me up and managed to get me back out competing the next day, so they deserve a lot of credit to the performances too.
Matt Holt and Laura Ross work as hard in the office as we do in the gym they keep the ball rolling and the machine ticking. That's pretty much GB Boxing, in a nut shell.
Regular visitors to anthonyogogo.com and the readers of my blogs know how passionate I am about Britain, you'd do well to find someone as proud as me to don the GB tracksuit. Chanting "Team GB" after each of my performances at the games pretty much summarises it. Its been an honour to represent Great Britain for so long. I've been lucky to have had an extensive amateur career. I've travelled the world. Experienced some amazing places, some not quite so amazing but all unique in their own right.
I've met some brilliant people, of whom many I feel I can call dear friends.
As this chapter comes to a close another is about to begin, an exciting future awaits and I couldn't be happier. But I realise I wouldn't be in this privileged position if it wasn't for a lot of people, some who I have mentioned above, others that I haven't. So thank you all nonetheless.
For everyone reading this, here's to a happy and healthy 2013. I hope you all achieve your dreams.
2012, a funny old year, cheers.