James Degale’s success in the Beijing Olympics has left the young Londoner with a difficult decision to make about his fistic future. Capitalise on his gold medal and accept one of the presumably numerous offers from promoters trying to tempt him into the professional sport, or hold on until 2012 to try and repeat the triumph in his hometown.
While Amateurs now benefit from greater subsidies and doubtless there would remain opportunities beyond the traditional channels to earn additional money, rejecting the overtures of the lucrative professional sport would be foolish.
As Frank Warren suggested to Amir Khan ahead of the Sydney Olympian’s decision to turn professional following silver in 2004, four years is a long time. Injury or misfortune could intervene or curtail his pursuit and it could happen at anytime up to and including the games. If they did, the offers to a 26 year old, as Degale would then be, would be much more scarce and far less lucrative.
Degale has spoken a great deal about the honour he feels representing his country and spoke passionately in the aftermath of his semi-final of “wanting his anthem”. Illustrating the reverence with which Olympic victory was held by the 22 year old. It really mattered and it is clear Degale view this decision as a genuine dilemma rather than simply a earnest smoke screen ahead of this inevitable leap to the professional sport.
Points decision elsewhere in the tournament also illustrated the vagaries of the system and the huge potential for Degale to be the victim of poor officiating in four years time and though this is counter balanced to some extent by the style he employs - perfectly suited to the scoring methods employed in the Amateurs it may not, necessarily, transpose with similar success to the professional sport – I would encourage him to use the renown his medal has afforded him and press on with the next logical step.
Turn professional James.
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