Ready for Rio: Antony Fowler

In the run-up to the Rio Olympic Games, ITV News speaks to four Olympic hopefuls in Team GB. In the latest in our series Ready for Rio, today we profile boxer Antony Fowler.

Antony Fowler's talent in the boxing ring was clear from a young age.

After taking up the sport at the age of 11, he won the English schoolboy title within just 12 months of his first gym appearance. Most young boxers, he says, don't compete for at least a year. And it was in those early years that he realised his determination to win, and hatred of losing.

"I boxed my first fight within five weeks which is very unusual because normally lads are there for a year before they compete, so I boxed for five weeks and I won," he said. "The year after I boxed for England, so after that I was hooked.

"I didn't realise how much I wanted to win until I lost my first fight and I was crying. I was only 11 but I remember crying and I thought 'why am I so down after this?' After that I never wanted to lose again so I always worked very hard."

Anthony in training in Sheffield. Credit: ITV News

The hard work has paid off. Since being selected for GB's Olympic programme as a development boxer in 2010, Antony, who was born in Liverpool, has amassed seven international gold medals.

In 2013 he won a World Championship bronze medal, before clinching gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

  • Bouncing back from London 2012

London 2012 came "a little bit too soon", he says. After suffering a broken nose in 2011, Antony missed out on qualification.

"I was brokenhearted then but it made me more determined to go to Rio," he remarked.

Antony Fowler won gold in the Men's Middleweight (75kg) Final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Credit: PA

So what about his chances at Rio? Anthony is in confident mood - and says he doesn't fear any of his opponents.

"Obviously I'm fairly confident, that's my personal opinion. We'll see what happens come the day, but I believe I can do it.

"There's obviously top class opponents, it's the best in the world, and I do believe on my day I can beat them all."

  • 'The Machine'

Antony (right) in training for Rio. Credit: ITV News

Among his Team GB boxing team-mates at the training base in Sheffield where he now lives, his nickname is 'The Machine'.

"I think it suits my style." he says. "I'm very fit and strong and I always put 100 per cent in so I had to earn that nickname."

That hard work ethic and natural ability was spotted many years ago. Coach Bob Dillon first met Antony when he was 13.

"When they're really young you know that they're going to come and go and hopefully they're going to come back again but with Antony he was always around from the schoolboys to juniors and into the seniors, so straight away you saw that he loved the game, he loved the pressure parts of it, he loved the finals.

"He always had good balance, he always had good timing and he always had that little bit of spitefulness, just to go a little bit more than the others would do to get the win."

  • Following in the footsteps of Robbie

Sporting pedigree runs in the family. One of Antony's cousins is none other than Robbie Fowler, the former Liverpool and England striker.

"A lot of people are interested" in that, he says. But as he prepares to represent Great Britain at the Olympics, Antony thinks its time for the comparisons to stop, adding: "I think now I've made my own name in sport."

Antony's cousin Robbie Fowler played for Liverpool and England. Credit: PA

Is Robbie a good boxer?

"I wouldn't say so, no. I don't think many footballers like getting punched."

But Antony doesn't rate his footballing skills too highly either.

"I did try and play when I was young but I wasn't very good at it, I had two left feet, so it didn't work out for me."

  • On professional boxers in the Olympics

Antony said he's "not against" professional boxers competing at the Olympics, telling ITV News: "as long as I'm going and competing for my country I'll box whoever's there."

Professionals are eligible for Olympic qualification under new guidelines approved by the amateur boxing governing body, AIBA.

Chris Eubank Jr with his dad Chris Eubank Snr. Credit: PA

Last month GB Boxing said there was no space for the British middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jr after Fowler had been selected following several months of qualification.

Fowler said: "I found it quite funny to be honest, that he thinks he can just stroll into the Olympics because he's won a few professional fights but I've been here four years, I've been to Commonwealth's, European's, World's and now the Olympics so I deserve my spot."

  • The future

Antony hopes to turn professional after Rio 2016. Credit: ITV News

But Antony, who trains in the gym three times a day, has his own dream of turning professional.

"I've been in the squad six years now, I've been to every major tournament there is... and I've won medals at all of them apart from the Olympics, so that's my ultimate goal to get a medal at Rio and then follow my professional dreams.