There’s nothing like being beaten up by your best friend to spark an Olympic dream.
For Joshua Buatsi that dream was ignited on a Croydon estate seven years ago with a pair of boxing gloves and a group mates.
The 22-year-old would often don the gloves and try and get the better of his friend Shane Sobers who, at the time, was the only one of the group taking boxing lessons.
But time after time Buatsi would be outboxed until one day he decided enough was enough; it was time to learn the craft for himself.
That decision led him to South Norwood and Victory gym where he received the tutelage of Terry Smith and Mark Gillespie.
It was a partnership that would flourish as Buatsi came into his own and since then he has taken back-to-back light heavyweight crowns at the ABA Championships.
The Olympics are the main ambition for Buatsi however and, since representing Team GB at this year’s European Games in Baku, he feels that the dream is closer than ever.
“I maybe started a little bit late in boxing but my best friend had these gloves on the estate so we would all try and them on and have a go,” he said.
“But none of us could get near him really and he used to beat us all up so I thought ‘OK I am going to go and train and learn how to box and then I would be able to beat him.
“So I went to the gym and Terry and Mark really took me under their wing, I knew I had catching up to do on kids that had been boxing a while but I just made sure I worked hard.
“So it was my mate Shane that got me into it and I still go to the gym with him and he holds pads for me.
“It’s crazy to think now that it could lead to me going to the Olympics but there is still a lot of work to do.”
That work begins next week at the European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, where Buatsi will be looking to secure his spot at this year’s World Championships in Doha.
That would open the door for Rio qualification and, despite disappointment in Baku earlier this year where Buatsi lost his round of 32 bout, he says he has learned some valuable lessons and is prepared for the road ahead.
“I’m 100 per cent feeling really good for this and I am really happy to have been given the opportunity to represent my country,” he added.
“I need to show up and work hard and make sure I am at my best when the competition comes around.
“The coaches were impressed with how I did in Baku and we have learned a lot from that and identified things we need to work on.
“It can be tough to come back from a big competition and then get straight back in the gym but this is what we do.
“It is what we all want to do and so there is no need for motivation because we are doing exactly what we love.
“I am really looking forward to Rio and it’s all about qualifying now and going to the Europeans and doing well.
“That is all we are working towards and I keep it in my mind all the time even though it is an event that is a year away.
“It would mean absolutely everything to me to make that team.”
© Sportsbeat 2015