British middleweight boxing hopeful Anthony Ogogo

Anthony Ogogo is on a mission. The talented 23-year-old middleweight from Suffolk gets his chance of Olympic glory this afternoon. A gold medal in London would certainly open doors for a man intent on cruising to the high-life. But, as he explained to Dominic McGuinness, he still can’t get a cheeky Indian monkey out of his mind.

You booked your Olympic place at the final qualifying event. Now, how excited are you ahead of the London Games?

It’s going to be massive. There will be so much hysteria around the country it’s mind-blowing. Just getting there, people don’t realise how hard it is. There’s so much competition. But once it starts it is going to be an amazing experience, and hopefully loads of people from my home town of Lowestoft will make the journey down to watch me.

As an elite boxer, how good is it competing in countries most people never get to see?

I’ve been to some very strange places. Most people go on holiday to nice resorts with good weather and I’m the same. But they never get to see the real country. With boxing, when we go away, to places like Siberia and Azerbaijan, we get to see a lot and it’s great for the memories. You tend not to think about it too much at the time because your focus is on boxing and winning. But it is nice to be able to go to these places and have something to tell the grandkids when I’m ancient.

So you’ve competed in weird and wonderful places –which stand out?

Welcome to Texas green signTexas holds a special place in Anthony's heart
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I went to a place called Brownsville in Texas which is right on the Mexican border. We went in July so I thought it was going to be really hot and packed all my shorts and T-shirts. We flew into Houston in a thunderstorm, I’d heard stories about this kind of thing, but I just couldn’t believe it. We then flew to Brownsville which is a really surreal place. It was the first time I’d ever been to America but it was full of Mexicans.

The thing I like about America is that they do everything big. Brownsville is only a small place but it had a huge shopping centre. It’s the same everywhere and I like the way they do things. We went to the cinema and there was a huge screen, the biggest I’ve ever seen. Brownsville was a really good experience, it was the junior Olympics and I won gold there so it will always be a special place.

Which place would you most like to revisit?

Cuba, Havana coastlineAnthony was enchanted by the rugged Cuban coastline
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I’ve been to Cuba which was really great. I’d like to go back. When we went there we stayed in a ghetto in the middle of Havana. Each night we heard strange noises in the early hours and it was scary stuff, but then just five minutes' drive down the road there was the most beautiful beach. It was so hot you had to jump around on your tiptoes, the sand was burning and the water was ice blue. It was fantastic. I’d love to go again to relax, but in a resort, not downtown Havana.

You boxed and won silver at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. How did you find that experience?

It was a really mad place. It was well publicised that the athletes’ village wasn’t ready and there were concerns about the Games going ahead. When we arrived, we could tell it wasn’t ready. It was a bit of a tip to be honest. I was so excited about going and thought it was going to be really nice, but there were bugs everywhere and at first it wasn’t the nicest place to be.

After I settled in it was different. I’d never been to a multi-sport event before and there were so many countries and athletes. There was so much going on that if you weren’t focussed you could easily get sidetracked. I tried to enjoy it but stay away from things and concentrate on my job and what I was there to do.

Away from the athletes’ village, did you enjoy India?

Monkey crossing road in IndiaIndia had a few surprises in store for Anthony
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Yes – it is a crazy place. One day we took the bus from the village to the boxing venue which was about a 20-minute drive. I was sitting there with my headphones on, reading a book, relaxing before my fight, when we stopped at some traffic lights. I looked up and there was a monkey walking across the street. I couldn’t believe it, it was like one of those moments in a cartoon when they shake their head and look again. I did that and this monkey just strolled across the street. Loads of people were around and no one batted an eyelid. I was sitting there thinking – has anybody else seen this? There’s a monkey crossing the street!

Back to this summer’s Games, how do you expect London to cope?

I’m the biggest patriot I know. Great Britain is the best country in the world and London the best city in the world. It is going to be immense. Personally, to perform in front of your own people and make them all proud will be epic. I’m going all tingly just talking about it.

Since I started boxing, I’ve always wanted to go to the Games. A lot of boxers only harbour dreams of turning professional, but I’m different. It has always been my goal to box at an Olympic Games. I would love to win a medal for Team GB. I want to become the best boxer I possibly can and give myself the best opportunities. Hopefully that will be enough to become an Olympic champion and a star.

After you’ve competed in London and (obviously) won the gold medal, are you going to take a well-earned break somewhere interesting?

St Lucia beachSt Lucia is one island of the Caribbean that Anthony would very much like to visit
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I’d love to take my whole family on a Caribbean cruise. One of our coaches was showing me some pictures of his holiday a few years ago and it looks so nice. The boat was massive, like a town in itself. I’d love to take my mum, sisters and my girlfriend and just chill out. We’ve never really been on a family holiday. We’ve never been able to – money being the main thing – so it’d be really nice to treat them. I’d love to see all the islands – St Lucia, St Kitts and the others. After I’ve won gold of course!

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