CHEAVON CLARKE never planned it this way. Everything for him was focused on medalling at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. And then it didn’t happen. “What people don’t realise is that while you’re there, the whole experience is a high and you go there with an expectation. I fully expected to come home with a medal. But then as Mike Tyson said, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. When you get punched in the mouth, it’s just how you deal with it,” he tells Boxing News. “It’s some experience. It’s like you’re on a mad high, you can’t imagine the high you’re on. Before, everybody’s like: Cheavon Clarke Olympics, Cheavon Clarke this. It’s the same story of success and failure. It’s nothing new. You come home, you’ve got to reset. Credit to those who went out there and created history for themselves.”
The coronavirus regulations meant that after his split decision defeat to Brazil’s Abner Teixeira he had to leave the Athletes Village in 48 hours. “In the moment when he said he won, I almost dropped. How did he win?” Cheavon sighed. “As much as I want to sit here and hum and har about it, it isn’t going to change anything so may as well just get on with it.”
With barely enough time to process it, he had to depart Japan. “There’s nothing to celebrate. I just came home. My mum didn’t even know I was coming home. I just came home and knocked on the door and she was like, ‘What are you doing here?’” he said. “Before the Olympics, the vision I had, anything I had planned was to win a medal and come back home… I just focused on the job at hand.”
“There’s a [GB] record been set but at the end of the day when people talk about boxing at the 2021 Olympics and the medals, nobody’s going to mention the guys that didn’t medal. You just have to realise that,” he continued. “You’re included because you were at the Games. But when it’s said and done, you didn’t do nothing. You’ve just got to get your game together and go again.”
But he visibly brightens when enthusing about the success of his team mates. He acknowledges all the men and women on the team individually and also points out how for half the medallists it took more than one Olympic cycle to achieve that success. “Pat [McCormack] went to the last Olympics and he didn’t medal. Galal [Yafai] went to the last Olympics and he didn’t medal. You have to give those guys credit for staying on, coming through and bossing it like they did and obviously Frazer [Clarke’s] been on it for like 12 years. Credit to them,” he said.
The standard of competition at this Olympics was such that brilliant boxers were eliminated in the preliminary stages. “We all went out there and gave our best. Peter McGrail, I would have put my house on him medalling. He’s just that good. If you haven’t watched him, you need to watch him,” Clarke said. “I don’t think people realise how hard it was [even to get there]. We had one opportunity to qualify. One.”
Now he will consider his options. An explosive fighter with a come-forward style, Clarke should capture the attention of professional promoters. “We just have to see what’s available to us and manoeuvre from there,” he said. “You’re still on the [GB] team until you make a decision… We can talk. But at the end of the day, there’s a Worlds in October.”
“It’s all about levelling up. My journey has always been like this. From boxing for Jamaica, to lorry driving to winning the ABAs to then getting on the team. I’ve had to do it the hard way and the Olympic medal would have just made things a little bit easier,” he reflected. “I’m sick of doing it the hard way… But it is what it is. You have to do that.
“I fully believe in myself and I believe I can beat anyone. In a fair fight I can beat anyone. It is what it is. We’ve just got to get over this bump and go from there.”