GB Boxing: Inside the ‘medal factory’ at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield

Following GB Boxing’s best Olympic Games in more than a century, the next generation of fighters are ready to make their mark.

Sunday, 8th May 2022, 5:08 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th May 2022, 5:23 pm

The English Institute of Sport (EIS) was hailed a ‘medal factory’ last summer when six Sheffield-trained fighters earned podium places in Tokyo, including two gold medals courtesy of Lauren Price and Galal Yafai.

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The pair are among 10 of the 11 fighters from the class of 2020 to have since turned professional – and continue to train at the facility in Attercliffe along with bronze medallist Karriss Artingstall.

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Demi-Jade Retszan.

“We went with a really strong team that could compete with anyone,” says performance director Rob McCracken, who has trained former world champions in Anthony Joshua and Carl Froch.

“The Olympic dream is alive and well."

Joshua is a successful graduate of the GB programme in Sheffield along with another household name, double Olympic champion Nicola Adams – and, like Froch, used the EIS as his training base until his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk in September.

"They are role models and they are a great example of if you put the work in and believe in yourself, you don’t have to be the most talented boxer in the world – you just have to have a good amount of ability, listen, buy in and work hard,” adds McCracken.

Tokyo Olympian and mum-of-three Charley Davison.

"Look at what Carl training here achieved and what Anthony Joshua achieved.”

After the predictable post-Tokyo exodus into the paid ranks, a new cohort of Olympic hopefuls are training three times a day, four times a week in a bid to fulfil their dreams.

The next seven days will see six women from Team GB compete at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

The European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships will also take place in Yerevan, Armenia later this month, with several men from the GB squad set to compete.

Tokyo gold medallist Lauren Price continues to train at the EIS in Sheffield.

Demi-Jade Retszan is a 2019 world championship bronze medallist and European silver medallist. She wants to go one step further this time.

"It was my dream to become a GB boxer,” she says, “now I’m here it’s just like ‘Oh my God’.

"You just push on from that, you want to achieve medals in everything."

The 25-year-old four-time national champion, from Cambridge, will be joined in Istanbul by mum-of-three Charley Davison, 28.

GB Boxing performance director Robert McCracken (left) watches over the athletes during a training session.

Charley has been a member of Team GB since 2018 after returning to boxing following a seven-year break after the birth of her first child.

She competed at Tokyo but is the only member of the squad not to have turned professional.

"I haven’t succeeded in the amateurs yet,” she says, “I want to get a medal.

"An Olympic medal is all I’ve dreamed of. I’ve worked hard and I’m still capable.”

Despite being a relative novice on the international scene last summer, Charley is now among GB Boxing’s more experienced athletes.

She turned down advances from the professional circuit to stick around for the Paris 2024 cycle.

"It’s hard graft but it’s fun,” she adds, standing in front of a blood-stained ring apron.

“You have always got to push yourself because you have got people that are always willing to push you to the next level.

"The people around you are always willing to do better. That makes you want to go one step better and always improve.”