Harrison proves A-Force to be reckoned with
On 1 October 2000 in Sydney, Audley Harrison made history by becoming the first British boxer to win Olympic gold in 32 years, and his country’s first ever super-heavyweight champion at the Games.
Prior to the Games he had turned down a lucrative deal to turn professional in order to pursue his Olympic dream. Fifteen years on, in this exclusive video, the man known as ‘A-Force’ recalls with incredible clarity each step of his Sydney adventure.
At 1.98m tall and weighing in at 114kg, Harrison cut an imposing figure. However, he was also a supremely technical fighter with quick hands and a fantastic jab, who combined his reach and power to devastating effect, especially during his amateur career.
After defeating Russia’s Alexei Lazin on a technical knockout in the first round, he then secured points victories over Alexey Mazikin of Ukraine and Italian Paolo Vidoz to set up a gold medal bout against Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov of Kazakhstan.
His performances were all the more impressive given that for most of the tournament in Sydney he was nursing a hand injury. The images of him dancing around the ring in delight after his victory over Dildabekov, are enduring ones. Soon afterwards, his achievement – as the first British boxer to win Olympic gold since Chris Finnegan at Mexico City 1968 – was acknowledged with the award of an MBE (Member of the British Empire).
Although he went on to turn professional shortly after Sydney, his Olympic gold remains the high point and defining moment of his career, and the one of which he is most proud.
Moreover, he believes that it was a watershed moment for British boxers in general, and one that helped pave the way for future Olympic successes.
“That's my legacy right there,” he says. “Amir Khan, James DeGale, Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams and on and on… Without my gold, these Olympic greats would never have got the funding to train full time. The world-class support staff and facilities that is now the norm, all became a reality because of my medal.
Harrison officially decided to hang up his gloves in 2015, at the age of 43.