Former WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders has told William Hill‘s podcast, Up Front with Simon Jordan, that he was once nearly sent home from the 2008 Olympics boxing camp after an incident involving teammate Frankie Gavin.
Featuring on William Hill’s Up Front with Simon Jordan, a podcast hosted by the former Crystal Palace owner who speaks to sports stars and celebrities and challenges their opinions whilst scrutinising their careers, Saunders said: “I actually nearly never ended up going to the Olympics. I almost got sent home before it started in my training camp. It was me and Frankie Gavin and he was struggling to make weight, so we weren’t allowed out of the training camp. Me and Frankie decided to steal two jet skis outside of the hotel. We thought two people were chasing us when we were using them out at sea, so me and him started doing ‘moonies’ to them. It turned out it was The Sun newspaper!
“They identified it was me and the head coach came in and told me I was being sent home and that I wouldn’t be going to the Olympics and representing my country. I was thinking ‘what have I done?’ because I didn’t realise how bad it was. To be fair to him, Frankie Gavin knew he wouldn’t be able to make the weight so he took the fall for me, and I will never forget him for that.
“Some of the things I have done in the past have been very stupid and I don’t know whether it was because I was young, uneducated or just a bit hyperactive. But when they said I was going home from the Olympics I suddenly thought, ‘oh s**t, I’ve ruined it all,’ and it hit home.”
Over-confidence got the better of me at the Olympics
Having survived the scare of being sent home, Saunders spoke on his underwhelming performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which saw him defeated in the second round.
“A lot of people tell stories of what they could have or should have done. In my case, the two who won Gold and Silver at the Olympics were a Cuban and Kazakhstani fighter, both of whom I beat just 10 weeks earlier in Bulgaria in a competition called the Strandzha Cup.
“I went to the Olympics as a bit of a Billy Big Bo***cks, thinking I was just going to turn up and win the Olympic Gold,” he continued. “That’s where I found that my positive side could be negative and that I could get too confident. I remember thinking I had already beaten the Cuban and Kazakhstani fighter so all I needed to do was turn up and I’d win the Gold Medal.”
Andy Murray told me to ‘f**k off’ when I asked him to play FIFA
Saunders emphasised his naivety in 2008, telling the story of how he went to Andy Murray’s room in the Olympic Village to ask him to play FIFA late at night, despite the two-time Wimbledon champion having a match the next day.
He said: “Another example of how immature I was happened in the Olympic Village, where obviously all of the athletes from every sport stay together. One night I knocked on Andy Murray’s door at midnight asking if he wanted to play FIFA, when he had a match the next day. That’s how childish I was mentally.
“Andy basically just told me to f**k off really. I can’t remember exactly what was said but it was along those lines. It was basically just ‘what are you doing?’ then he slammed the door shut.”
You can watch the full episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35Hs6CCYK20
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