GB Boxing has launched Podium2Pro, a new professional group of three boxers, with Olympic medallists Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall the first to sign up.
The two Tokyo 2020 medallists, who turned pro this year, are promoted by Boxxer. They will be able to train with the GB team, but will not receive any public funds as GB funding is reserved for amateur boxers training for the Olympics.
The Podium2Pro boxers will pay a percentage of their earnings to GB Boxing to cover its coaching and management services, with the additional option of using and paying for the services of sports scientists from the English Institute of Sport.
This is a win-win for both the professional boxers and GB Boxing.
The professional boxers will be able to access the elite services of British sport, while GB Boxing’s Olympic hopefuls will be able to train and spar with top-level Olympic winners-turned-pro boxers.
Price, a world, European and Commonwealth champion, said: “All of the coaches and staff at GB Boxing know me inside out and when I thought about it, I just could not see myself being anywhere else.
“It means I get to work with brilliant coaches and get access to the best possible sparring with the boxers in the GB squad. There are loads of benefits.
“When it comes to the management side, I know I can trust the people at GB Boxing and that they have my interests at heart.
“I’ve worked with them for years and they genuinely care about me so I want them to be involved in helping me to progress through my professional career.”
GB Boxing’s focus is on winning Olympic medals, so starting a pro team, even if a small one, is significant.
It shows how Olympic boxing itself is changing. At Tokyo 2020, professional boxers who had rejoined their national teams won medals. Uzbekistan and the USA have both integrated pro boxers into their Olympic programmes.
GB Boxing has determined an initial capacity for three pro boxers, all of whom, under current international boxing rules, have the possibility of representing Team GB at the Olympics as pros.
This would allow Great Britain to bring back former medallists, who are current professionals, to qualify for Paris 2024, if the GB squad has no medal contender in their weight categories.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re always keeping our options open and we’re looking at having a talent pool where we can maximise the potential we’ve got,” said GB Boxing chief executive Matt Holt.
A clause in the professional boxers’ contracts stipulates that in the event of a clash between a professional bout and a significant event relating to the world-class programme, the latter must be prioritised.
The Podium2Pro boxers would be well-placed to return to Olympic boxing, if they wanted to, if their professional commitments allowed them to, and there was no amateur medal contender in place.
According to Holt, the pro boxers would be training in the same gym, using the same coaches and would be familiar with the GB team environment.
“The world is changing, we’ve got to be adaptable, flexible, making sure that we’re keeping all our options open to make sure that we remain competitive at the next Olympic Games and then all the Games into the future as well,” said Holt.