The amateur boxing scene in the UK has always been regarded as one of the best places for young fighters to learn, hone and develop their skills, with many going on too great things in the professional game.
The likes of Lennox Lewis, Amir Khan and Anthony Joshua stand out as some of the most memorable British fighters to achieve as both amateurs and professionals.
Now it is the turn of Harvey Horn. Aged only 22 and boasting an outstanding honours list at national and world level, the Repton man is ready to make his long-awaited transition to the professional circuit.
In an exclusive interview with FightTalk.net, Harvey Horn reflects on his amateur career, talks in depth about GB Boxing and lays out his plans for life as a professional.
Like many young fighters, Horn got into boxing as an outlet to keep out of trouble. A decision that would change the course of his life forever.
‘’I got into boxing at age 11. I was doing karate and got up to a brown belt. I was always causing trouble, fighting with my brothers, and with other people in school. So my dad took me down the boxing gym, and I never looked back!’’
After immediately falling in love with the sport, Horn began to progress fast, outshining his peers on the Junior stage. Hailing from humble beginnings at Gator ABC, the young London boy stood head and shoulders above the rest, and sought training from the legendary Repton Gym in East London.
‘’I moved to Repton Boxing Club aged 15 after winning my first Junior ABA Title at Gator ABC. I moved on because I needed the better sparring, and at the time my club [Gator] didn’t have the sparring on offer. I had aspirations of getting into the GB squad and fighting at the 2012 Olympics, so I needed to move on.’’
Horn has appeared and achieved at virtually every level in the amateur game. Fighting as a light-flyweight, the 22-year-old picked up Gold medals at two Tri Nation events, three various senior international events and most recently, a Gold at the Under 22 European Championships in Romania back in March.
However, one achievement immediately sprang to the fledgling professional’s mind, speaking with great pride as he remembered the finest moment of his boxing career to date.
‘’My best achievement [in boxing] probably is winning the Gold at the under 22 European’s. But my happiest moment was winning the senior ABA’s. I had just turned 18 and I was boxing in it for the first time. I was up against 27 year old’s and a world champion was in my weight. I boxed three days in a row at the Echo Arena and won!’’
Despite two seasons in the World Series of Boxing (with an impressive 4-1 record), alongside a host of experience in senior international tournaments, Horn would narrowly miss out on selection for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
‘’I would’ve liked to go to the Olympics as an amateur because that is the highest level you can achieve [as an amateur]. I boxed at the European’s, I boxed at the World’s, boxed all over the world, but I never got a chance to represent my country at the Olympics.’’
‘’To be fair, I don’t think I was given a fair enough chance. I was the number one seed in my division for two and a half years, but I wasn’t allowed to box-off for the qualifiers, so I had to make the best of it, which is why I’ve turned pro.’’
The World Class Performance Programme at GB Boxing was set up in 2008 to deliver a higher level of training for all male and female amateur boxers on the Podium Squad. And with 22 medals achieved by squad members since London 2012, the training and facilities that are available to fighters have been heralded as second to none.
‘’The GB set-up was really good, it was very hard! We were up there [GB Boxing HQ in Sheffield] Monday till Thursday every week, with some of the camps being slightly longer if we had a tournament coming up. Or we would have multi-nations come for a week or so to come in for sparring.’’
‘’The coaches up there like Rob McCracken, Dave Alloway, Lee Pullen, and Gary Hale are all really good coaches and I felt they brought the best out of me. I had really good sparring partners up there, it literally is the best in Britain! If you want to be the best you have to train with the best, and that’s definitely what it’s like up there.’’
When discussing inspirational GB Squad members of the past, most are quick to cite the likes of AJ and Khan as their motivation in boxing. Harvey Horn has his role models set closer to home.
‘’Seeing GB Olympians like Anthony Joshua definitely inspire me. But Joshua Buatsi was my room-mate for the whole time I was on the squad, so it’s good to see someone who was in my position actually achieving big things. It shows that it can be done, and it will be done by me!’’
Buatsi recently turned professional, beginning his career with two knockout victories in his opening two bouts; and the fiery 22-year-old is keen to follow up on the success of his former roommate.
‘’I am turning professional. I am training with Mark Tibbs out of Peacock Gym in Canning Town. I will be signing a promotional deal with Frank Warren and Boxnation, these are my plans as a professional.’’
The likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Estrada and Naoya Inoue have emerged as the stars of the lighter weight divisions over the last few years, and Horn spoke with unquestionable hunger and passion as he outlined his plan for life as a professional.
‘[I will} start at Flyweight and will be moving up and down when I start fighting for international titles.’’
‘’My debut will be early November and I went with Frank Warren because he was the top promotor around when I was younger and I have always dreamt of topping his shows. Also, he has got a great TV platform with BT Sport and Boxnation that will be good for me.’’
Boxnation’s TV deal with BT Sport has immediately given more opportunities than ever to young fighters to showcase their talent to a wider audience.
And with Frank Warren shows scheduled up and down the country for the remainder of 2017 and beyond, Horn will have the perfect stage to display his incredible amateur pedigree on a regular basis, as he starts his journey as a professional fighter.
Follow Harvey’s journey on Twitter: @HarveyHorn
By Thomas Humber