How trainer John Cremin almost missed out on Anthony Ogogo
JOHN CREMIN will be brimming with pride when he watches his protege Anthony Ogogo climb through the ropes at this summer’s Olympics, but he could have so easily missed out on the talented 23-year-old.
Ogogo will represent Great Britain in the middleweight division having sealed his place by reaching the final of the European Qualifying tournament in Trabzon, Turkey, last month.
However, all that seems a lifetime away from the moment when Ogogo first set foot in Cremin’s Lowestoft-based Triple A Gym.
Such was Ogogo’s ability, the veteran trainer almost turned the youngster away as rumours had circulated that the youngster had boxed elsewhere.
“The first time he came to the gym I thought he had boxed somewhere else so I nearly kicked him out,” revealed Cremin, who supported former Kirkley High School pupil Ogogo in Turkey, along with the boxer’s girlfriend Casey and some of the middleweight’s friends.
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“Anthony told me he had not boxed elsewhere and I thought he was lying, and I gave him a bit of a rollocking.
“But it turned out his mum used to buy him Muhammad Ali videos and he would copy his technique in front of the mirror.
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“I remember from the very start believing that Anthony would be one of those boxers that others would want to avoid. That’s how it turned out at the qualifying event in Turkey, no one wanted to face him.”
Cremin realised he had a talent on his hands and it soon emerged that Ogogo had the mentality to complement his burgeoning talent.
Within three years, Ogogo had won the Junior Olympics, picking up the Most Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament to boot, before being crowned World Under-17 champion a year later, in 2005.
“He has set out what he wanted to achieve and has given his whole life to boxing, that is what you have to do,” admitted Cremin.
“The sacrifices he has made have been unbelievable. He has not had that time going out drinking with his mates, he has missed all that.
“He has had the odd night out obviously but they have been few and far between. He is 100 per cent dedicated.”
Ogogo has made no secret of his Olympic dream and admitted just the mention of the Games “makes my body tingle”.
The dream is set to be come a reality but like Cremin’s discovery of the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, the middleweight’s ambitions could have so easily gone up in smoke.
Ogogo underwent surgery on his right shoulder following his exit from the World Boxing Championships last September – a departure that left his Olympic dreams in tatters and everything riding on his recent trip to Trabzon.
“He needs a bit of a rest now and he pulled out of the European final in Turkey as a precaution,” said Cremin.
“He was told when he had the operation that the usual recovery time is between nine months to a year and when he had a similar operation on his other shoulder he was out for two years.
“But he wanted this so much that he was back in the ring come January. He has overcome major hurdles. When he boxed the Brazilian lad in the World Championships he could not lift his right arm up. If anyone deserves a bit of luck it’s Anthony.
“Can he win gold? Most certainly.”
Ogogo is quick to praise Cremin.
“John has been with me from the very beginning,” said Ogogo.
“He has driven me up and down the country to various tournaments and I have always been on the phone to him in different countries after my fights.
“He has always been there for me and I can’t thank him enough.”