Strong England contingent leads Olympic qualification bid

June 3, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


The Great Britain Boxing squad will tomorrow begin its bid to secure places at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics – with 11 of the 12 boxers taking part having come through the England Boxing Talent Pathway.

This week’s (4th to 8th June) Road to Tokyo European Olympic Qualifying Event will be held in Paris and is a continuation of the event held in London last March that was suspended after three days of competition due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

It will resume where the first event left-off and be based on the draw from the original event.

176 boxers from across Europe remain in the competition which is their last competitive opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

77 places (50 male, 27 female) at Tokyo 2021 are on offer at the Paris qualifier which will be held across eight men’s weight categories and five for women.

The GB team is made-up of eight men and four women and includes Wales’ reigning world champion, Lauren Price, and three Englishmen that won medals at the 2019 world championships, Pat McCormack (sliver), Peter McGrail (bronze) and Ben Whittaker (bronze).

The full team is:

Boxer Weight class Country Qualification places available at wight class
Charley Davison Flyweight (51kg) England 6
Karriss Artingstall Featherweight  (57kg) England 6
Caroline Dubois Lightweight (60kg) England 6
Lauren Price Middleweight (75kg) Wales 4
Galal Yafai Flyweight (52kg) England 8
Peter McGrail Featherweight (57kg) England 8
Luke McCormack Lightweight (63kg) England 8
Pat McCormack Welterweight (69kg) England 6
Lewis Richardson Middleweight (75kg) England 6
Ben Whittaker Light-heavyweight (81kg) England 6
Cheavon Clarke Heavyweight (91kg) England 4
Frazer Clarke Super-heavyweight (91kg+) England 4

Two members of the GB Boxing team, Galal Yafai and Peter McGrail, did secure Tokyo qualification at the original event in London, but the pair will still compete in Paris as performance in the qualifier will influence seeding at Tokyo 2021.

Great Britain will not contest the women’s welterweight category after Rosie Eccles was defeated in her opening bout in London and eliminated from the competition.

For the other 10 members of the GB Boxing squad, the Paris tournament is the first and last competitive opportunity for the boxers to secure an Olympic place following the decision by the IOC’s Boxing Task Force (BTF) to revise the Olympic qualification pathway in light of the disruption caused by Coronavirus.

After that, the final 13 Olympic places (eight male, five female) available to boxers from Europe will be allocated by a ranking system developed by the BTF.

Although boxers will secure Olympic qualification at different stages in the Paris tournament, the competition will continue through to medal stages and a final in all 13 weight classes, as performance at the Boxing Road to Tokyo qualifying events will impact on seeding at Tokyo 2021.

The men and women in the Great Britain team all know who they will face in their opening bout and what they need to do secure Olympic qualification.

At flyweight, Charley Davison (Attleborough), is one win away from a place and Tokyo and needs to defeat Poland’s Sandra Drabik to complete a fairytale story that will see her qualify for the Olympic Games, less than two years after returning to the sport, following a seven year break in which she had three children.

Featherweight, Karriss Artingstall (Army) needs to win two bouts to qualify and will begin her campaign against Helina Bruyevich of Belarus on Friday.

At lightweight, Youth Olympic Champion, Caroline Dubois (Repton, pictured above), requires two victories to secure qualification.  The 20-year-old will face world number two Mira Potkonen of Finland in her opening contest.

World champion, Lauren Price, requires two wins to reach Tokyo and will start her campaign against Davina Michel of France.

In the men’s competition, Luke McCormack (Birtley) needs to overcome Tugrulhan Erdemir of Turkey in his first bout to be on the plane to Tokyo.

Twin brother, Pat McCormack (Birtley), requires two wins to make his second Olympic Games and will box Monaco’s Hugo Micallef in his opening bout.

At middleweight, Lewis Richardson (Colchester) will need to overcome Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzniak to set-up a quarter-final qualification bout.

Light-heavyweight, Ben Whittaker (Firewalker), needs two wins to make it to Tokyo and will open with a bout against Paul Andrej Aradoaie of Romania.

Cheavon Clarke (Gravesham) needs two wins to secure qualification and will meet Narek Manasyan of Armenia in his opening bout in the heavyweight division.

The same is true of super-heavyweight, Frazer Clarke (Burton), who needs to overcome Croatia’s Marko Milun, in his first contest to set-up a qualification bout.

Of the two qualified boxers, Galal Yafai (Birmingham City) will continue his flyweight campaign against Korynu Soghomonyan of Armenia.  Featherweight, Peter McGrail (Everton Red Triangle, pictured above), will meet Roland Galos of Hungary.

Frazer Clarke said: “I feel like I have been training for this qualifier for so long, I am just excited that it is finally here.  I am looking forward to getting out there and getting the job done.  I have been to two tournaments since Christmas and won gold at both so I feel good.  The coaches have done a great job of preparing us and the whole team looks fantastic.  The next week is huge for me and I am just going to give it everything I have got.”

Lauren Price added: “It has been a long time coming.  I am excited and a bit nervous, but I am looking forward to getting the job done.  My preparation has been good and I have been hitting PBs (personal best) on our runs recently so I am feeling fit and ready.

“It has been my dream to go to the Olympic Games since I was eight-years-old, so now that the opportunity has finally come round, I am going to do everything I can to make sure it happens.”

The qualifying event will be held behind closed doors with a series of Covid safety protocols in place.

The action will be streamed live on the Olympic Channel and can be viewed by clicking here. Action will get underway tomorrow afternoon (1pm UK time).

Draw sheets for the event can be viewed by clicking here.

England Boxing would like to wish all GB squad members the very best of luck in their Olympic qualification attempts.