Portrait by Tom Jenkins for the Guardian
rounds I fought with one arm. I still won easily. But I had to get a [surgical] bone-block in my arm. When I woke up the pain was unbelievable. My right arm was so withered it took 10 months of hard work to get better.”
Ogogo won his next three fights before the bleak night against Cunningham. His love for boxing, somehow, endures. “I fell for boxing the moment I walked into the gym. The smells and the pictures of Muhammad Ali on the wall hooked me. I didn’t know whether I’d be any good but I would’ve been happy being a spit-bucket boy.”
He was more than good enough to win his Olympic place ahead of Callum Smith, the unbeaten super-middleweight who could fight either George Groves or Chris Eubank Jr in the final of the World Boxing Super Series next summer. As Smith soars so Ogogo’s career has plummeted. Yet he remains resolute.
“I’ve said before, I don’t care if takes 10 eye surgeries, I’m going to box again. I’m now hoping the next one, the fourth one, is the last because I’ve got no money left. They will do the final fixing of the eye muscle when I’m awake so I can tell him what I’m seeing. After three weeks my brain will assimilate the new eye position and I should spar hopefully in January.
“My biggest dream is to win Sports Personality of the Year. I’ve been invited again this year but I’m not going because I’m not where I want to be in life. I think Joshua will win it next month. I’ll be happy for him because he’s a nice dude. I’m a few years behind him now but I still want to win it one day. That drives me on because I don’t want to be a bitter old man who didn’t achieve what he wanted. I’m more determined than ever to keep fighting.”