Whittaker: Dad's guidance helped me target Tokyo

Whittaker: Dad's guidance helped me target Tokyo

17 January 2020 / 15:38
Parents often know what's best and Great Britain boxer Ben Whittaker has been shaped by his father's advice.

The 22-year-old stands on the cusp of a massive 2020 as he sets his sights on light heavyweight stardom in Tokyo.

Whittaker claimed silver at the European Games and world championship bronze in 2019, with a word in the ear from dad a consistent factor in his success.

“I am in a great position and I remember a couple of years ago my dad said coming up to the Olympics I needed rubberstamp my name as one of the best out there,” Whittaker said.

“You need to go to these majors and start getting medals or trying to win them. That is what I have been doing and I just want to keep that momentum going for the rest of 2020.

“You want to be the type of boxer who when people draw you, they think ‘oh no I’ve got Ben Whittaker’. That is not trying to be big headed but that is what you aim for.

“It is going to be a real busy year, which is exciting and I really can’t wait to get going. The year has just started and we are back in a training camp. The ball is rolling and I am in a good place.”

Despite being a light heavyweight, Whittaker is remarkably nimble on his feet and credits dancing in his training regime with giving him an X factor.

Once again Whittaker, who boasts an amateur record of 28-8, praises his dad in helping to sculpt his style.

“My dad has been a great influence and I was a hyperactive kid,” he said.

“I was running wild at school and got sacked from jobs. I wasn’t naughty, I was just full of energy. I didn’t follow rules and was too hyper.

“When I was 14 or 15 my dad said I had to focus on my boxing. I took that advice and it got me here. Even when I was about seven, he wouldn’t let me throw punches and used only do foot work training. You can see that influence all over my style.”

Whittaker will look to continue his ascent in Tokyo, but must first earn a spot on the plane to Japan with Team GB.

The first chance to do so comes at London’s Copper Box in March when the Road to Tokyo European Qualifying event arrives in the capital.

It will be the biggest boxing tournament to take place in England since London 2012 and Whittaker is enthused by the prospect of fighting in front of a vociferous home crowd.

“Watching 2012 and seeing the emotion when a British boxer won gold made me think I’d love to fight in front of that crowd. Next thing you know I am on the doorstep of doing it myself,” he said.

“People always want to watch me, but fights are usually overseas. With the Olympic qualifiers being in London, I will be bringing the whole of Wolverhampton down to watch me.”

A rangy fighter whose fleet-footed and easy-on-the-eye style belies his 6ft 3in frame,

Whittaker has found a new level of consistency since stepping up in weight and looks at home in his 81kg frame.

He wears his weight across a slender frame and a big reach has proven a boon for a man who is clearly comfortable among bigger fighters.

Whittaker will look to use this confidence to fuel a medal assault should he qualify for Japan and is relishing the chance to make the next big step in his career.

“I moved up to 81kg and won gold at my first tournament. Ever since then I have been flying and it was the best decision I ever made,” he said.

“Everyone is saying I can win gold in Tokyo, but I just want to go there and medal. Once I have a medal I can start thinking about changing the colour. I want to do myself and my country proud.

“Doing well at the Olympics can change your life and I have the skill set to go there and do it.”

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