Dale Youth Club's golden boy!
PUBLISHED: 11:36 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:20 24 August 2010
2008 Getty Images
By Ben Kosky OLYMPIC champion James DeGale is tempted by the chance to defend his title on home ground in 2012 – but admits the lure of pro boxing may be too strong. The Dale Youth Club star is only the fifth British boxer in history to win Olympic gold a
By Ben Kosky
OLYMPIC champion James DeGale is tempted by the chance to defend his title on home ground in 2012 - but admits the lure of pro boxing may be too strong.
The Dale Youth Club star is only the fifth British boxer in history to win Olympic gold at any weight - and the first middleweight to do it since Chris Finnegan 40 years ago.
DeGale spoke exclusively to the Times - who have reported on DeGale's progress since before the first of his two ABA title successes - just hours after he outpointed Cuba's Emilio Correa to win gold in Beijing.
Asked if he planned to turn professional, the 22-year-old from Harlesden answered: "Probably - it's very hard to say no to a million pounds. I've had a few promoters text me already.
"I'm going to go home, speak to everybody - my family, my coach and [GB coach] Terry Edwards, and have a good think about what I should do next.
"But there's also the thought that I could be the face of London 2012 and bring back another gold in my home city.
"It's all mad at the moment, I don't think I can believe it myself. My parents were ecstatic - they mean the world to me. I want to thank them, my coach Steve Newland, and everyone at the club. I'm Dale Youth through and through.
"Terry Edwards is another one who stuck with me through the highs and lows. My phone didn't stop going and my Facebook page with good luck messages from old friends - and it all spurred me on a lot."
Whatever DeGale owes to Edwards, his victory in Beijing has helped repay the debt after the GB coach attracted criticism at the start of the tournament.
More importantly, DeGale countered suggestions that he found it hard to focus at major tournaments - an argument that gained momentum after his World Championship defeat by Alfonso Blanco last year.
And the Dale Youth man also put to bed his past struggles against Darren Sutherland, demolishing the Irishman - who had beaten him in four of their previous five encounters - 10-3 in a one-sided semi-final.
"I've answered all the questions," DeGale added. "There were a lot of doubts from people who said I didn't perform on the big occasion and didn't think I'd get a medal.
"Others in the squad were talked about as favourites more than me and maybe that helped a little bit. But I felt I could beat the best in the world and now I've made history at the biggest show on earth.
"Three of the five I beat had beaten me in the last two years - and the sweetest was Sutherland, it was unbelievable."
But people are beginning to believe - and not just in north-west London. James DeGale has gone all the way as an amateur and the pro ranks surely await.