Olympic Spirit: Anthony Ogogo Overcomes Adversity to Make His Ring Return

So far, Anthony Ogogo’s professional career can be compared to a car minus a set of wheels—it hasn’t gone very far.

During his amateur days, Ogogo was a member of Great Britain’s successful boxing squad at the 2012 Olympic Games.

In London, he picked up a bronze medal in the middleweight division. He had hoped for gold, but his hopes of finishing on top of the podium disappeared with a semi-final defeat to Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao Florentino.

British team-mates Luke Campbell (bantamweight) and Anthony Joshua (super heavyweight) did strike gold at the Games four years ago, while Fred Evans picked up a silver at welterweight.

In the space of a fortnight, the successful fighters suddenly became household names. There had been no real interest in how they were progressing before the Games, but afterwards everyone wanted to know what they were going to do next.

While Evans remained an amateur for a further three years, the other trio all made the decision to turn pro off the back of their Olympic exposure.

Joshua has made the most progress in the paid ranks so far. The popular heavyweight has eased to 16 straight victories—all of them inside the distance—and is already a world champion.

Campbell, meanwhile, owns a 13-1 record. His progress suffered a blip with a surprise loss to Yvan Mendy in December 2015, but he is the current Commonwealth champion at lightweight.

While his two fellow Olympians have moved through the gears, Ogogo has been stuck in neutral. He made his pro debut in April 2013, yet he has only had a further seven bouts since.

His plans to reach world level have been stalled by injuries. In 2014, he required surgery to repair an injured Achilles. A comeback was delayed when a second operation was needed to clear infected tissue, according to BBC Sport.

Then, when he was finally able to make a ring return just over a year after his last outing, Ogogo dislocated a shoulder during his win over Ruslan Schelev in Germany in July 2015.

 

Considering the setbacks, the 27-year-old could easily have traded his boxing kit in and opted for a different career.

However, Ogogo has instead remained focused on his road to recovery. Now, after several false starts, he hopes to get motoring again as a pro.

On Saturday, at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, the middleweight will step back between the ropes for the first time since July 18, 2015.

He doesn’t know the identity of his opponent for the six-round contest. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter who’s in the opposite corner. All that matters is Ogogo will be fully fit and ready to fight again.

In an interview with Sky Sports News HQ (h/t James Kilpatrick of SkySports.com), Ogogo admitted his frustration at the stop-start nature of his career:

It’s been the two worst years of my life.

It’s been horrendous, I’ve just had hellacious rehab. I’ve trained really hard and rehabbed really hard.

I’ve had two career-threatening injuries, one after the other. But I’m quite a positive person. I’ve had to work hard to be where I am, but I’m finally here and I don’t want to look back any more.

At his age, and with a lack of miles on the clock, Ogogo can easily make up for lost time. All he needs is stay healthy.

It is easy to forget when he became a pro, the Englishman signed with Golden Boy Promotions.

When announcing the deal, Golden Boy’s chief executive, Richard Schaefer said, per the Daily Record: “Anthony Ogogo has everything you look for in a boxer.

“He can fight, he has style and charisma and he has amazing crossover potential. I have no doubt that Anthony has the skills in the ring and the personality outside of it to make him a global boxing star.”

Well, Schaefer was right about the crossover potential.

Although his boxing career hasn’t yet blossomed, Ogogo’s profile has been helped by appearances on celebrity television shows Splash! and Strictly Come Dancing. He’s kept himself busy with media appearances, all the while working hard to get back to fighting for a living.

He will be expected to chalk up a win on Saturday, as he sets out a journey he hopes will lead to a world-title shot.

Ogogo told John Dennen of Boxing News: “I still believe whole-heartedly I’ll become middleweight champion of the world and a bloody good one as well. I know I’ve got inside me what it takes. I just need the body to enable me to go out there and show the world how good I can be.”

Only the most miserable of individuals would begrudge him a chance at the big time.

Yet when you consider the setbacks he has overcome just to be able to box again, Ogogo may well have already won his greatest battle.

While the mind is clearly willing, Ogogo just needs the body to be able.

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