The north west has long been a product line for talented boxers. There have been many big names that have come through the amateur ranks and gone on to win Olympic medals and world titles once they’ve reached the professional game.
One north west youngster who’s hoping to reach similar heights is Oldham’s Will Cawley. The 22-year-old is eyeing up a place in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic games. I caught up with him at the Oldham boxing and personal development gym, where he trains over the weekends.
“All I’ve got on is training at the minute. Monday to Thursday I’m in Sheffield with the Team GB lads, which is good practice because they’re really good boxers and we learn from each other. The goal for me now is Tokyo 2020, but first I need to qualify through the AIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament, which is going to be really difficult but hopefully I’ll make it through”.
Cawley is no stranger to success, though, as he’s won numerous titles already in his amateur career, with his first coming at the age of 15. On his 18th birthday, he won the Brandenburg Youth Cup as part of England’s first ever youth squad. He described what it was like to win on his birthday:
“Yeah it was a great experience, especially winning on my birthday, but it was great to be in the England squad. I beat Kazakhstan, Germany and France to win gold and my coach, Eric, was also fighting at that tournament and he won silver, so it was nice to get that one over him”.
It was no surprise that the boxer had a wry smile on his face when he said that, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the Oldham man. Before he picked up a pair of gloves, Cawley was in regular trouble with the police and known as a youth offender, but his brother decided to try and make a difference.
“It was my brother who first brought me down to the boxing gym. I remember my mates thinking it was quite cool when first joined. Obviously, the way my life was going back then, I don’t regret it at all coming here, it’s the best thing I could’ve done”.
There have been many boxers that have come through the Olympics and have gone on to be big names in the professional game. Names like Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell that have had great success after Team GB. Will Cawley claims there’s no pressure to follow in their footsteps:
“No, I don’t feel any pressure to be like them. I’m just doing my own thing and I know that if I stay focused and keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll make it as a professional. They inspire me if anything. I look at them and think that’s what I want to do, I want to get to the Olympics and win professional fights. That’s the dream”.
Being a teenager and having to stick to a strict diet and training programme is surely a difficult task, particularly when your friends are beginning to be distracted by other things and Will admits there was a difficult time during his amateur career when it was harder to stay focused.
“I think when you’re around 15/16 and trying to stay focused on training and making sure I make weight, but your mates are wanting to do other things it can be difficult. That was the hardest part for me, but obviously now I look back and I’m proud that I stayed on track and trusted the process, because it’s brought me to where I am now”
Speaking of his training camp in Sheffield, Will mentioned a Sheffield boxer who he takes a lot of inspiration from:
“My main boxing inspiration who I’ve always been a massive fan of is Prince Naseem. I’ve modelled my style on him and so far, I’ve done alright fighting that way”.
With the qualifying tournament just around the corner, Will Cawley will be hoping to continue his great amateur career by making it to Tokyo in 2020. After that, he’s confident of becoming a professional and will certainly be one to watch in the future.