Sheffield-trained boxer Galal Yafai wins Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold
Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport has helped produce yet another Olympic boxing champion after Galal Yafai powered his way to flyweight gold.
GB Boxing is enjoying its most successful Games in more than a century and much of that is down to the training base in Sheffield where a mixture of expertise, hard work and team spirit has forged the latest batch of world beaters.
Yafai, who lives in Birmingham but trains in Sheffield, rewarded viewers who got up early this morning to watch his gold medal bout by dropping and defeating Carlo Paalam of the Philippines to top the podium.
His victory means Team GB has already claimed five medals in the ring at Tokyo 2020, with Lauren Price guaranteed a sixth ahead of her gold medal bout on Sunday morning.
Yafai, whose brothers Kal and Gamal are also boxers and have secured world and European titles, remained humble after clinching gold.
“All the coaches would tell me: ‘Galal, you’re going to be an Olympic champion’, and I’d say: ‘No chance.’ I thought they were saying it to be nice to me, because they were my coaches. It sounds crazy to say I’m Olympic champion now,” said the 28-year-old.
“Whenever I do anything good it impacts on my brothers. So if I’m Olympic champion it’s great for them. And when Kal and Gamal do well, it looks great on me as well. We’re a close-knit family and we will celebrate together.”
Team GB’s boxers have spoken glowingly about the set-up at the base in Sheffield, which has been described as a medal factory.
After securing bronze in the men’s super heavyweight division, Frazer Clarke revealed getting his face on the wall there had been his biggest motivation.
"It means the world. Anyone who's been to Sheffield at the boxing centre will know you get your photo on the wall if you're an Olympic medallist - I wanted to get my face on that wall and to leave a legacy in the gym,” he told the BBC.
"The picture on the wall was massive for me. The medal will be nice for the family but I wanted to be on that wall. That's what was going through my head.”
Matt Holt, GB Boxing’s CEO, told BBC Radio Sheffield yesterday how the ‘great facilities’ at the EIS were a big factor in the team’s success.
"We try to provide an environment that is inspirational for the athletes. The facility in Sheffield is really a combination of cutting-edge technology – it’s one of the best boxing gyms in the world – but we also want it to have the feel of a local club so that everybody’s there working together, real collective spirit and hopefully we're someway towards achieving that,” he said.
He also joked that they might have to knock through into the next gym to make more space on the wall of honour for the latest group of Olympic medallists.
Yafai's gold was Great Britain’s first in the men’s flyweight category since Terry Spinks at Melbourne 1956.
He dedicated the win to Team GB boxing captain Frazer Clarke, who was celebrating his birthday.
“It’s his day. He said to me to win the Olympic gold for his birthday and I’m glad to do that as his present,” said Yafai.