Persistent eye problems force Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo to finally give up the fight
Anthony Ogogo, the Olympic bronze medallist from London 2012, has been forced to retire from professional boxing, aged just 30 and with only 12 paid fights (one defeat) under his belt. After seven operations to repair a left eye socket broken in his sole reverse, to Craig Cunningham in October 2016, and then to re-align his eyes, the Lowestoft man finally gave up the ghost, safe in the knowledge at least that he had made every reasonable effort – and more – to return to a sport he loves.
“I am forced to admit that they are too damaged for me to safely return to the boxing ring,” Ogogo said, in a lengthy and heartfelt statement. “With a heavy heart, I have to retire from professional boxing with my dreams unfulfilled.
“My career has been a relatively short one filled with hurt, pain and frustration. I’ve been injured for a combined period of 6 years and 4 months as a result of: 3 shoulder dislocations, shattered eye sockets, broken bones, and damaged ligaments and tendons. All in all, I’ve had 17 operations and dedicated myself to intensive rehab, whilst watching friends and peers fulfil their dreams as mine dwindled. Moving forward, I’ll endeavour to focus on the incredible things that this boxing journey has enabled me to do.”
Ogogo’s bronze in London came as a surprise, but he eliminated then-world No. 1 Evhen Khytrov in his second bout, on the judges’ decision after countback was unable to separate the pair. Anthony upset the odds once again in the quarter-finals, securing his medal with a clear win over Germany’s accomplished Stefan Härtel. Ogogo would fall in the semis to Brazil’s excellent Esquiva Falcão but had seemingly secured a lucrative future in the pros, signing with US giant Golden Boy and turning over in April 2013.
Injuries plagued him, however, leading to a period of just one fight in almost two years. The Cunningham setback may seem, at first reflection, a sad way to finish a career, but Ogogo, suffering from blurred vision and under increasing pressure, showed great heart to hang in there until his corner eventually retired him in the eighth round. He displayed even greater fortitude to undergo painful and frustrating surgery on so many occasions, all to keep alive a dream he had cherished for so long. While devastated to have to retire, Ogogo is focusing on the future.
“I didn’t achieve my goal in a boxing ring,” He conceded. “But I’m still going to hold my head high; I’ve got a lot to smile about. I became a multiple time national champion from schoolboy to senior level, I represented and captained my country on numerous occasions and at major championships all around the world. I became Junior Olympic Champion, Junior World Champion, Commonwealth Games silver medallist and Olympic bronze medallist. I’ve done numerous primetime TV shows, bringing boxing into the mainstream. I always tried my best to conduct myself as well as possible and be a good ambassador for British boxing and my fellow boxers. I wanted to prove that the old stereotype that boxers are thuggish and unintelligent is just that, a dated stereotype.
“Forgetting the negatives I’m focusing on the positives. I’m walking away from this sport a healthy man. My eyes are damaged and I cannot box, but walking away now will mean that I will one day be able to read to my children.”