Hackney hitter Lawrence Okolie vies for the World title in just his 16th pro contest on March 20 against Krzysztof Glowacki, live on Sky Sports, and despite his deficit in experience, he is the odds-on favourite to win. Some gambling websites have Okolie at 4/9, check out these betting sign up offers for the chance to back the UK’s potential next world champion.
Ahead of the first world title fight of 2021 involving a Brit, BBN have found out some little-known facts about the contender:
Born in Hackney to Nigerian parents on December 19, 1992, he attended his local Stoke Newington School between 2004-2009, at the same time that musician Labrinth also went there.
Lawrence is very close to his family and fondly says of his caring mother, “Without my mum’s support, it would have been hard for me to get here. She is inspirational and always sends me messages.”
Lawrence was once clinically obese, weighing over 19 stone at the age of 17, so only started boxing to lose weight, initially.
Watching his future manager, Anthony Joshua, win gold at the London 2012 Olympics inspired Okolie to take his boxing training far more seriously.
He reflected, “Before I started boxing properly, I was watching the Olympics during my breaks at McDonalds whenever I could. It was the only thing to do. There was a particular break where Usain Bolt won the 100metres, then Anthony Joshua won gold. I felt something then. It was really inspirational, so I started putting more work into training and believing it more.”
In his vested career, he was a European champion in 2015, a two-time English University National champion, boxing first for Repton, then switching to Dagenham Boxing Club. Remarkably, he landed a place on the Team GB squad after just 15 amateur bouts.
He qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics as Team GB’s sole representative at heavyweight. He beat Igor Pawel Jakubowski from Poland on points in the preliminary round, but lost to 200-fight veteran Erislandy Savon of Cuba, who went on to claim bronze. Although he didn’t medal, Lawrence was pleased with the experience, which was incredibly impressive considering he had only had 26 amateur fights.
Before the Olympics, Okolie was a member of the British Lionhearts team in the World Series Boxing. He won two of his three tests, losing one, which was the first time he met future rival Erislandy Savon, but that first defeat was via stoppage. Six weeks later, they met a second time in the Olympics, which Okolie lost on points but was pleased with his improvements he had made in such a short space, with millions watching around the globe.
On January 18, 2017, Okolie announced his decision to turn professional, signing with promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing. He also signed to Anthony Joshua’s 258 Management label.
He was the first member of GB’s 2016 squad to turn over.
His pro debut took place at the Manchester Arena on the undercard of the Jorge Linares vs Anthony Crolla WBA World lightweight clash. He despatched of 33-year-old Geoffrey Cave within just 20 seconds.
Lawrence was studying Psychosocial Studies at the University of East London and had to defer his third year because he went to the Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
Okolie switched to a vegan diet to improve his performance as an athlete. He has even tried to convince Anthony Joshua to join him as a vegan.
The Sauce stands at a lofty 6ft 5in, with an 82in reach, and has weighed in as high as 210lbs before, but the heaviest he has recorded in a championship fight has been 199 ¾ lbs, which was for his last fight against Jezewski.
Ring Magazine #6
Having secured a place on Team GB after just 15 amateur fights and a world title shot after only 15 pro fights, Lawrence has said he is open to winning more world titles at cruiserweight and moving up to heavyweight one day.
He said, “David Haye has done great things, so has Johnny Nelson and many others, but I want to cement my legacy, have my name go down in history and maybe follow Haye by winning the heavyweight crown too.”
European Champion 2015
European Olympic Qualifier 2016 gold medal
Two-time English University National Champion
Rio 2016 Olympian (Reached last 16)
2018 – WBA Continental cruiserweight champion
2018 – Commonwealth cruiserweight champion
2018 – British cruiserweight champion
2019 – European cruiserweight champion
2020 – WBO International cruiserweight champion