THREE of Great Britain’s Olympic boxing hopefuls will return to competition for the first time in more than a year when Lauren Price, Frazer Clarke and Cheavon Clarke compete at the Bocskai Memorial Tournament in Debrecen, Hungary, 8-12 February 2021.
They will be joined by Lewis Richardson, who won his first bout at the suspended Olympic qualifier in March 2020, and forms part of an eight strong team selected by GB Boxing to compete at the event in Hungary, which will be held under Covid secure conditions.
For Lauren Price, who will represent Wales at the tournament, it will be the first time she has stepped into a boxing ring since she won the world championship in Russia in October 2019.
The middleweight was selected to compete at the Boxing Road to Tokyo Olympic qualifier in London in March 2020, but did not get the chance to box as the event was suspended after four days due to the Coronavirus situation.
The same is true of Frazer and Cheavon Clarke (not related) who were denied the opportunity to box in London and last competed at the men’s world championships in Russia in September 2019.
All three have been preparing at GB Boxing’s gym in Sheffield since the Olympic squad returned to full-time training in June 2020 after the boxers spent 11 weeks training at home during the first lockdown.
Price said: “I am really looking forward to stepping back in the ring and getting used to the whole process of competing again. We have had some good training camps and I have been able to do a lot of sparring, but nothing quite matches the feel of competition and the nerves that come with that. We have Olympic qualifiers due in the spring and early summer and I was really keen to get some competition in before then so it’s great that we have this opportunity.”
Frazer Clarke said: “This is the longest I have been without competing since I was about 14, so once the chance to box came up I was very keen. It will be good to get back into the routine of competing and I am sure I will feel at home once that bell goes. We are very fortunate to have this opportunity to compete and I am keen to use it well.”
Cheavon Clarke added: “It’s been a really long time, so when Rob McCracken (GB Boxing’s Performance Director) asked me if I wanted to box in Hungary I jumped at the chance. I have been sparring well and beating my PBs (personal bests) on the runs so I feel I am in really good shape and am looking forward to getting back into full competition.”
Joining the trio in GB Boxing’s team in Hungary is another Tokyo hopeful, Lewis Richardson, who last competed over 10 months ago at the Olympic qualifier in London in March 2020, where he won his opening middleweight contest against Victor Yoka of France.
Richardson said: “I was pleased to have the opportunity to box in London as we’d had a long, hard camp leading up to it, so it was good to get in the ring and let off some steam. The lockdown was hard at times but I am used to dealing with uncertainty so I just tried to find the positives in the situation. Being able to get back in the gym and train with GB Boxing has been a big plus and has helped to keep us all motivated.
“I am really excited about having the opportunity to compete again and it will be good to get all those emotions back, like the nerves you get beforehand and then the satisfaction that comes at the end of the fight. It has been a long time since I boxed, but I feel I am in a good place and can’t wait to get back out there.”
A fifth Tokyo hopeful that will compete in Hungary is Rosie Eccles from Wales, who also boxed in London but was narrowly defeated by Saadat Dalgatova of Russia in her preliminary round contest. Welterweight, Eccles, still has her eyes set on qualification for Tokyo and will be looking to earn selection for the second and final qualifying event which was due to take place in early summer but which is yet to be confirmed.
The full team for the Bocskai Memorial Tournament and the home nations they will represent is:
All eight boxers will be tested for Covid-19 before flying to Hungary on Friday 5 February 2021. Social distancing protocols will be in place throughout the tournament venues and all coaches and officials will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during the competition.
The action gets underway on Monday 8 February 2021. Results will be posted on the GB Boxing www.gbboxing.org.uk website and on twitter at @gbboxing.