Typically of Anthony Ogogo, the London 2012 Olympics bronze medalist, thanked dozens of other people for his career, rather than acknowledge his own desire and will to battle back from an incredible 17 operations over the last two and a half years to stay competitive in the ring.
He retired earlier this week, with a record of 11-1 as a professional middleweight boxer.
“Accepting the end gracefully is part of being a professional athlete. Calling an end to dreams that are left unfulfilled is the hardest part,” said the fighter from Lowestoft, Suffolk, now 30 years of age.
“Life is all about doing your best with the cards you’ve been dealt; that is what I have done time after time. Sadly, after seven operations on my eyes in two and a half years, I am forced to admit that they are too damaged for me to safely return to the boxing ring. With a heavy heart, I have to retire from professional boxing with my dreams unfulfilled.
“It’s been one hell of a ride: from walking into the boxing gym as a skinny, gap-toothed 12-year-old, to travelling the world and meeting some remarkable people. I’m grateful that I’ve been blessed enough to do what I’ve loved to do for the last 18 years.
But in keeping with his character, typical of the man he has always shown us to be, he says he “will get better rather than bitter”.
In a short career “filled with hurt, pain and frustration”, Ogogo has been injured for a combined period of six years and four months and endured three shoulder dislocations, shattered eye sockets, broken bones, and damaged ligaments and tendons. Seventeen operations and intensive rehabilitation have typified that period of time.
Internationally, and blessed with a great physique and work rate, Ogogo went from Schoolboy Champion to European medallist to Junior Olympic Champion and finally to Junior World Champion. He also captained his country, England. He went on, in 2012, to claim the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, whilst his mother was fighting for her life in hospital.
Richard Schaefer signed Ogogo as a professional for Oscar De La Hoya, and I recall Richard reaching out for an opinion about Anthony. I can recall saying that he would most likely go on to be a famous British boxer, as he was marketable – popular, handsome, and extremely likeable. He could fight a bit too…
“My career shouldn’t be judged on the medal or title success I did or didn’t have. I’d rather it be judged on the way I played the game. Each day, each training session, each fight I went into it with unrivalled amounts of determination, resilience, and pride. I never cheated, never skipped a session, never ducked an opponent or an opportunity – often times to my own detriment,” explained Ogogo.
“I’ve conditioned myself to live a life of ‘never giving up’, so I’m struggling with the fact that on paper it looks like I’m giving up on my career. Mentally I want it more than ever, but my body for the final time, has given up on me and on my dream – I am not fit for task. Out of respect to my family and people who love and care for me, I have to say enough is enough. I’ve learnt there are many things in life you cannot control, but you can control how you deal with those things. This is the challenge I face now, overcoming this conflict and channeling that ‘never give up’ attitude into something else.
“I am and will always be a fighter to the core. There are some golden examples of this that I will never forget. In the amateurs I overturned a never been done before deficit, with one arm, beating the Georgian to qualify for the Olympics. In 2012, I beat the World No 1, a Ukrainian that nobody gave me a chance against. I did it with a patched up shoulder, ravaged Achilles, a broken rib and worst of all my mum was in a coma and I didn’t ever think I’d see her alive again.
“In the pro’s I was back to fighting with only one arm again. One time in Germany I had to put it back in the socket using my own knee between rounds.
Finally, my last ever fight I tried to box on for eight rounds, even though my eye socket was shattered and I was 78 per cent visually impaired. In spite of all the adversity, each and every time I laced up and gave it my all. I now know I have the capacity to overcome insurmountable odds. I’m devastated I never got to show the mainstream British Boxing fraternity what I am capable of.”
I worked with Anthony in studio on radio and on television and have interviewed him many times for The Telegraph. This was the attitude he always showed to the core.
He added: “I’ve always said boxing is a snapshot of life, boxing has taught me many things in life. It’s taught me that the best man doesn’t always win, you don’t always get what you deserve and sometimes boxing, like life, isn’t fair. But there are two things we can do. We can cry, sulk and whinge about it, be bitter about it and get absolutely nowhere, something that I have done in the past. Or you can bite down on the metaphorical gum shield, and push on forwards to become a better person. That’s what I’m doing now, I’m biting down hard and I’m pushing on forwards to carve something out for myself.
“I’ve been through a lot in my career. I’ve had 17 operations and suffered every pain imaginable. I’ve won, lost, cried and hurt. But if you were to ask me would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I love this game.”
Hear, hear. Anthony Ogogo. A champion in every respect.