Year of birth:
1998 at the European Super Heavyweight Competitor
1998 Commonwealth Games Super Heavyweight Gold Medalist
2000 Olympic Super Heavyweight Gold Medalist
It was during the boxing super heavyweight finals at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney that the nation stayed up until the early hours of the morning to watch Audley Harrison punch his way to a remarkable gold medal victory, becoming the first British heavyweight in 32 years to top the boxing podium.
Growing up on the Stonebridge Estate in Harlesden, a tough inner-city neighbourhood in north-west London, Harrison—although always good natured and a free spirit—spent part of his teens years hanging out with troublemakers, who spent the day committing petty crimes and misdemeanours. It wasn’t until he landed in the Feltham Young Offenders Institute that Harrison decided to make what would become the first of many brilliant decisions for his life’s future.
Just over ten years later he is an Olympic and Commonwealth gold medallist, a college graduate with a Bachelor of Science (Hons), a Member of the Order of the British Empire, a champion for the rights of amateur boxers and a generous donator to charity. Audley Harrison turned his life around quite impressively and he owes a great deal of it to boxing.
Although Harrison started his amateur career later than most—he was 19 in 1991 when his older brother Rodney, a club boxer, introduced him to the ring—he was a quick learner with natural raw talent from the start. He found the best boxing facilities and amateur coaches England had to offer, joined the Northolt boxing gym and started his career. After two years of club shows and his reputation as a tough competitor growing, Harrison found it harder to find fights among club-level amateurs. Having no other choice, he joined the Amateur Boxing Association Circuit (ABA), an unusual move for a fighter with only six amateur bouts. He was thrust in to competition with some of England’s top amateur fighters. He blossomed as a fighter in the 1995 season and won his first national title in 1997. He was again victorious at the 1998 Commonwealth Games before his history making Olympic feat. He achieved top-level success and became a learned student of the sweet science.
It was during these years that Harrison also pursued an academic degree. After gaining college credit at the College of North East London, he was accepted in to Brunel University in Isleworth, Middlesex in 1994 earning a degree in Sports Studies and Leisure Management. Part of his requirements was a ten thousand-word thesis which he wrote on ‘A Sociological Perspective on the Justification of Amateur Boxing.