OLYMPIC AIMS: Ashley Vanzie harbours hopes of representing
Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Games
HAVING looked on in awe last summer, Ashley Vanzie wants nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of Britain’s 2012 Olympic heroes.
The 25-year-old Yorkshire champion dreams of one day becoming a national hero, mirroring the recent success stories of Luke Campbell and Anthony Ogogo.
And today (Friday) could mark the start of a memorable journey to Rio 2016, as Dewsbury’s KBW Combat & Fitness star attends Great Britain trials for the first time.
Vanzie may have fallen short in the Senior ABA National Championship final back in April, but a host of jaw-dropping displays while on route did not go unnoticed by national selectors.
GB Boxing performance director Rob McCracken made contact with the light-heavyweight late last month, inviting the Haringey Cup gold medal winner to test his mettle against the nation’s rising talents.
From now until Sunday, at the English Institute for Sport in Sheffield, Vanzie will be put through his paces.
Regarded as one of the country’s leading light-heavyweights at amateur level, the Bradford-born boxer will line up alongside rivals from Wales and Scotland in the hope of being considered for the GB podium squad.
“Since I heard from Rob (McCracken), I have been counting down the days ever since,” Vanzie told The Press.
“This is an amazing opportunity, boxing for my country is something I have always wanted to do.
“And if I can make it into the national team I’ll be surrounded by world-class sparring partners, which will help me become the best I can be.
“The trials could put me in the frame for Rio and that makes me incredibly excited. I am very hungry.
“The invitation would suggest GB Boxing see me as one of England’s top light-heavyweights, but I am going to be up against some hugely-talented fighters.
“I am as ready now as I have ever been, though, and I feel this is my moment to shine.”
On Wednesday, pro boxing promoter Eddie Hearn unveiled Olympic super-heavyweight gold medallist Anthony Joshua as the latest addition to his Matchroom stable.
With Campbell, pictured right, and Ogogo already on board, both undefeated as professionals, Vanzie sees Olympic stardom as the way forward.
The brother of former British and Commonwealth lightweight champion Bobbie Vanzie is therefore holding back on a professional switch.
“I don’t care what anyone says about professional boxing there is no greater honour, for any sportsman, that to compete in the Olympic Games,” insisted Vanzie.
“For me this is definitely the way to go. The success of Luke Campbell and Anthony Ogogo are enjoying is something I look to. It all came from the Olympics.”
This weekend’s GB Boxing assessment programme is designed to kick-start squad preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, meaning Vanzie’s call-up could not have come at a better time.
By Ryan Sparks