After getting the year off to a flying start with gold at the Bocskai Memorial Tournament in Hungary, Great Britain’s 22-year-old Olympic hope Joshua Buatsi capped a hugely successful 2015 with light heavyweight gold at December’s Rio 2016 Test Event. AIBA caught up with him as he made his way home from Brazil.
Congratulations on your gold medal in the Rio Test Event, how does it feel to get that win under your belt ahead of an Olympic year?
It feels very good to win and I’m very happy with it, but it is only the test event. The main thing is getting a medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
What did you think of the atmosphere in Rio?
I loved the atmosphere, the Brazilian crowd was loud and noisy and I can imagine how amazing it will be during next year’s Olympic Games.
How did your bouts go in Rio, how tough were your opponents?
All the bouts were competitive and I am glad to have won all three. I knew nothing about the Indian who I boxed in the first round but I was familiar with the German and the Dutch athletes. All three were top fighters and I am happy to have beaten Peter Mullenberg who defeated me in the semi-final of the European Confederation Boxing Championships in Samokov four months ago.
How do you look back on what was a very successful year for you?
It has been a very busy year but a really successful one, starting with the gold medal at the Bocskai Memorial Tournament in Hungary where a lot of countries brought good boxers which made it a tough competition. Then I had the chance to box in the World Series of Boxing which is a good test for all of us and is something I would recommend for every boxer out there to try. I won my first medal at a European Championships and had the opportunity to face Cuba’s three-time AIBA World Champion Julio Cesar La Cruz at the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha. It was such a good bout, but there are a few things I will do differently next time I box him. Respect to him, he got up like a champion when I dropped him in the second round.
Could you share with us some insights about your preparations for these big international events?
Compared to previous years i’ve changed a few things in my preparations. On an average day I run morning and night, work on my strength and conditioning and of course I do a lot of sparring. I’ve got a lot of great sparring partners in the United Kingdom.
Who are your biggest inspirations in boxing?
My family and my trainers.
What is your greatest strength in the ring?
Just being myself in the ring and doing what I do best. My favourite movie is Gladiator and I think I am a real one in the ring.
What is your target for 2016?
My first target is to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and I know I still have the opportunities to do so. Having got a taste of the Olympic venue I’m now focused on getting the gold in Rio.