VIDA Antwi had a way of putting a spring in her son’s step. “Ever since I was a boy, mum used to call me: ‘Heavyweight champion of the world,’” said Gideon Antwi. “I don’t know why she did it. I guess she wanted to build me up, make me feel good about myself.
“Because of what mum said, I’ve always believed I will be heavyweight champion of the world.”
The tragedy is, Vida won’t see her son try to conquer the boxing world. She died when he was 16. “We still don’t know what happened to mum,” said Antwi. “She became ill, went to hospital and never got better.
“It was such a hard time and it still hurts every day. I’m determined to prove she could see the future. I’m determined to prove she was right to call me: ‘Heavyweight champion of the world.’”
The next step for Antwi, a laid-back 29 year old switcher who boxes for Hoddesdon, is the NAC super-heavyweight final in Manchester on Saturday, against Harvey Dykes. For both fighters, it will be their second final. Dykes lost last year to Victor Ogbo and Antwi was outpointed by Delicious Orie in 2019. “I’ve learned from it. I’m still defensive, but I’m being more aggressive off it,” said Antwi of one of nine losses on his 40-fight card. “I get in the ring sometimes thinking: ‘It’s just another day in the office.’ And I need to think: ‘Get in there, get the job done and get out’ instead.”
Antwi is a boxer who learns by his mistakes. He admits he’s sometimes smothered his work too much, puts his points loss to Ogbo in the NACs last year down to being “too flat footed” and after losing four of five fights against Courtney Bennett, he figured out how to beat the number one seed to reach this weekend’s final. “I sparred him a lot at GB and found that when I boxed southpaw he couldn’t handle it,” said Antwi, who boxed as a left-hander throughout this month’s semi-final and came away with a 4-1 points verdict.
Bennett has confessed that Antwi is a hard night’s work. Only 6ft 2ins tall, he’s strong – and hard to hit. “When I’m in there, everything seems to slow down and I see the punches coming,” explained Antwi. “I’m calm in there, my breathing is right and I always feel comfortable.”
Too comfortable sometimes. Antwi has been known to drift through rounds apparently just content to make his opponents miss without letting his hands go. “I’ve thought I might do well as a pro,” said Antwi, who works as a delivery driver for Amazon. “They will spend the opening few rounds trying to hit me and getting frustrated – and then I will take my turn!”
Antwi says he learned how to dodge punches sparring his father, Benjamin Miller. “Dad was a powerlifter and he was in the Guinness Book of Records for deadlifting,” he said. “He is 18 stones and had done some boxing as well. He used to get in the ring and say: ‘Let’s spar.’ I knew he would pull his punches, but they still hurt when they landed!”
Antwi was 17 when he started boxing. “I weighed 24 stones when I was a teenager,” he confessed. “All I did was eat all day long!
“I went to the youth club with my friend and there was a gym there. I started off doing 10 minutes on the treadmill, then it went up to 20 minutes and 30.
“I got my weight down to 18 stones and that was when I started boxing.”
Antwi has since won the Development title (2016), Haringey Box Cup gold (2017) and represented England. The NAC title is missing from his CV. “I know Harvey has good skills and he’s a southpaw,” said Antwi, looking ahead to this weekend’s final. “But I like boxing southpaws and I’m looking forward to showing everyone who ‘Gidz The Boxer’ is.”
Read our preview of the National Amateur Championships final here