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Audley Harrison on winning gold 20 years ago and the public spot on his professional career

These are test times for Nuuvo Haircare and founder Raychel Harrison. With the coronavirus flowing along the California coast, the salon had to close.

Fortunately, expertise remains close by. Few people know the value of good care like her husband, Nuuvo’s co-founder, Audley Harrison. It paid off 20 years ago when he had to shave his beard before writing sports history.

The memories of Sydney 2000 still “sparkle” for Harrison. He won Britain’s first super heavyweight gold and their first in the ring in 32 years. He soon negotiated a £ 1 million deal to return professional boxing to the BBC. While Harrison’s career would become synonymous with ridicule and potentially unfulfilled, his gold spelled a rebirth in British boxing.

Audley Harrison became Britain's first supermassive Olympic gold medalist in 2000

Audley Harrison became Britain’s first supermassive Olympic gold medalist in 2000

It led to improved amateur funding and laid the foundation for the state-of-the-art setup that has yielded 12 additional medals since, five of which were gold. Many graduates of the latter school have also obtained professional titles. In 2012 Anthony Joshua also won at super heavyweight. He is now on top of the world next to Tyson Fury.

“Can you imagine that no gold medal was won in Sydney? Where would we be? I know its power, ”Harrison tells Sportsmail. “There are some special moments in your life – getting married, having children – but the Olympics are there. That was the time in my life when I reached the mountain top. ‘

It was a goal he set while watching Wladimir Klitschko in Atlanta 1996. After those Games, Britain set up the World Class Program to combine their medal awards with their financial strength. Boxing was not included.

“That became my mission,” he says. “Before I turn pro, I’m leaving the future of amateur boxing by winning that gold.”

Harrison's highs gave way to lows and he was knocked out by Deontay Wilder in his last fight

Harrison's highs gave way to lows and he was knocked out by Deontay Wilder in his last fight

Harrison’s highs gave way to lows and he was knocked out by Deontay Wilder in his last fight

But even a few days after his final against Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov in Kazakhstan, victory still seemed like a dream. “My left hand was completely torn,” he recalls. “My knuckle was the size of a golf ball.” Team GB doctors said his journey was over; Harrison calls what happens next “divine.”

In Olympic boxing, fighters must precede a medical examination. And get rid of facial hair.

“I walked to the doctor like I was dying,” Harrison recalls. “He held my hand and he looked at my face and said,” Hey, Harrison, you’re not shaved. Shave ‘!’

When he returned without a beard, the doctor took his hand again and looked at his face. “I said,” I feel great. ” He said, “Okay, you’re good.” ‘

Come fight day, the pain was so severe Harrison needed an injection.

Anthony Joshua followed in Harrison's footsteps by completing the Olympic program

Anthony Joshua followed in Harrison's footsteps by completing the Olympic program

Anthony Joshua followed in Harrison’s footsteps by completing the Olympic program

Then a letter came. It belonged to Lennox Lewis. “You make us all proud,” it said. “From one Olympic champion to another. Respect. ‘

“It was like an adrenaline shot all over my body,” Harrison recalls. “That was when I knew without a doubt that this was mine.”

So it turned out. He emphasized Dildabekov and what followed was nationwide admiration, an MBE, a book deal and the promise of wealth in the professional ranks. Not bad, since Harrison had been banned from two schools and sent to an institute for young offenders.

During the Games he drove an open car with Evander Holyfield.

“I was in the car and everyone was taking photos, filming and stopping Holyfield and I was just like,” Wow, this is how it is going to be. “

Harrison was tipped to take over from British heavyweight Lennox Lewis

Harrison was tipped to take over from British heavyweight Lennox Lewis

Harrison was tipped to take over from British heavyweight Lennox Lewis

And that was it for a while. Promoters and TV companies were screaming to draw the man who was tipped to inherit Lewis’s crown. Millions tuned in to his early battles.

But Harrison was determined to do it his own way. He shun traditional power brokers and became his own promoter. He retained his talent and sharp tongue, but struggled to adapt to the pro game.

He was eventually driven to the United States when the snowballed spot. Fraudley became an unwanted nickname; his last bow came with a knockout in the first round of Deontay Wilder in 2013. “I wish I had walked away from boxing with more on the professional side, but I had enough,” he reflects.

Harrison deplores injuries and the “campaign” to ensure that he fail. “When I was in the Big Brother house with Kellie Maloney in 2014, you heard her say,” We couldn’t possibly make you succeed because if you succeed all these other boxers will say I want to be independent, “he said says.

The low point came in 2010 when David Haye – a former friend and protégé – stopped Harrison in the third round. The world title challenger received a single hit.

One of the lows of Harrison's life came when he was stopped by David Haye

One of the lows of Harrison's life came when he was stopped by David Haye

One of the lows of Harrison’s life came when he was stopped by David Haye

Harrison has since helped Haye crack the poker world. And in another cruel twist, that night arguably remains his enduring legacy in the pro game. Just as his gold laid the foundation for future success, that defeat kicked off Eddie Hearn’s promotional career.

Last summer, Hearn’s new appointment, Joshua, himself suffered a heartbreak against Andy Ruiz. “The attitude of some British people to hit people when they are down and to laugh at people’s misfortunes is disgusting,” said Harrison. “He fell and people were happy and cheerful, as if they were winning something. You won nothing! ‘

In February, after the death of TV presenter Caroline Flack, Harrison tweeted, “Leaving the UK is sometimes the best option for your mind.”

In recent years, Harrison has been an ambassador for the Samaritans. He even released a single for them.

“As you’ve seen with Caroline Flack and many others who couldn’t bear the heat, it’s difficult,” he says. “Especially if it is emotional and mental.

Harrison has spoken out against people who are happy with the misfortunes of others

Harrison has spoken out against people who are happy with the misfortunes of others

Harrison has spoken out against people who are happy with the misfortunes of others

He was upset about how people ridiculed Joshua after his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr

He was upset about how people ridiculed Joshua after his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr

He was upset about how people ridiculed Joshua after his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr

‘I have been there. But in my worst moments, I knew I always had that tenacity.

“You’ve seen it with Joshua, you’ve seen it with Tyson Fury, people love a comeback story once you get there. But they make it harder for you. If you fall in the UK, they will write you off so much that you really have to dig yourself out of the rubble. ‘

Today Harrison has found peace. He lives in Los Angeles with Raychel and their two children. In addition to hair care, he has reportedly earned nearly £ 1.4 million in poker since he retired, even though he has permanent double vision and his memory is not as sharp as it used to be.

“Once all this crazy coronavirus has settled, it will be great to be in a stadium watching Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury,” he says.

“I already know my impact. In 100 years it will still go back to that one moment, that one peak, when Audley Harrison won a gold medal. ‘

Harrison may not have lived up to his potential, but he paved the way for British boxers twenty years ago

Harrison may not have lived up to his potential, but he paved the way for British boxers twenty years ago

Harrison may not have lived up to his potential, but he paved the way for British boxers twenty years ago

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