Olympic hopeful fights for European crown

by Paul Campbell

A boxing champ and Olympic hopeful from Bermondsey is going for gold in this week’s European Amateur Championships.

boxer-22Obed Mbwakongo, a 19 year-old light-heavyweight, trains under Samm Mullins at the Lynn club on Old Kent Road and is ‘quite confident’ he can bring a gold medal back to south London.

Speaking on the eve of the competition from Liverpool, where the event is staged this year, Samm said: “He has a good chance. I keep telling him its not going to be easy, but he’s earned his place and can beat anyone on his day. He has the talent to do it.”

Samm continued: “I was speaking to him this morning and he’s very excited. I don’t want to put pressure on him, but I think he could win it. He’s got to look for it, and if he did win it would make my Christmas.”

Despite their confidence, Samm and Obed are aware of the fickle nature of the sport: “He’s been boxing well, is quite confident and deserves to be on the England team, but you need to do more than fight well to win a championship like this. You need luck with the draw and to stay clear of injuries,” said Samm.

Fighting at the European Championships is an honour for any fighter, but Mbwakongo sees this as another step towards the 2012 Olympics in London. Despite winning the ABA Championships in 2006 he failed to make the team for Beijing 2008. Since this setback, Mbwakongo has resolved to remain an amateur, train harder and complete at his home Olympics in 2012.

78089828CL036_ENGLAND_V_USA“Obed was gutted not to box at the Olympics. But my attitude is you can either mope around and give up or you can get on with it. He has worked a lot harder and now realises he’s got to take the sport more seriously. He’s really stepped up to the plate and has earned his call up to the England team,” said Samm.

Obed is not the only Lynn fighter hoping to make the Olympics – his younger brother Christian is a national champion and joins Ryan Jackson and Larone Richards as potential competitors in 2012.

Samm speaks proudly of the current crop of boxers at the Lynn club: “We have a great set of fighters at the minute. There are about four who could make the Games. I would say at least two of them will be there or thereabouts. They are all winning titles and national championships and should fear no one.”

The European Championships take place between 5 and 15 November.

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