JOSHUA BUATSI is back where he began. The South Norwood & Victory amateur boxing club is a proper gym. A wide ring fills the centre of the building, heavy bags creak on their chains, weights and an ancient stationary bike are kept unceremoniously clear of the floor. This place is all about boxing.
Buatsi first walked in here as a teenager. The coaches then, Terry Smith and Mark Gillespie, are still around him now. Duane Sinclair would soon become a sparring partner and remains one to this day. The two boxers are in the ring now. They are practising a simple drill, stepping off to the side and throwing a counter right cross. They repeat it again and again, while Terry, a venerable boxing coach, like a kettle coming to the boil, steams with frustration. What they’re doing looks good enough to me, not to Terry though. He interrupts and cries out his instructions with expletive-laden intensity. Buatsi may have left with the last Olympic Games with a bronze medal, to become one of the best prospects in the sport. Terry however is unimpressed.
This though is what Buatsi has come here for. “This is home to me. This is where I train, this is where I started. It’s good to still come here. Work on a few things,” he says afterwards.