UPWARDLY mobile Leeds puncher Hope Price has set his sights on qualifying for this year’s Youth Olympic Games at the first attempt at next month’s EUBC Youth European Boxing Championships in Italy.
Hunslet Club boxer Price landed the sixth national title of his young career last month when defending his title at 52kg in the England Boxing National Youth Championships at Doncaster Dome.
The 18-year-old Leeds fighter defeated Fareham’s Louis Small to continue his rapid progress which reached new heights last year when the teenager took a silver medal in October’s European Youth Championships in Hungary.
In the long term, Price is focused on the Olympic Games with the teen seeing no reason why he cannot step out at the Tokyo 2020 Games, even if Paris 2024 would probably be the more realistic option.
But before challenging for a spot at the Olympics, Price feels he must conquer this year’s Youth Olympics first and for that, next month’s Europeans are essential to the cause.
Price explained: “The Europeans take place in April in Italy and this year is also a Youth Olympics year which is every four years.
“If you win a gold medal at the Europeans then you automatically qualify for the Youth Olympics or if not you have got a chance in the World Championships in August.
“I think you have got to get to the last eight in those to qualify so there’s two chances to qualify and the main aim this year is to qualify for the Youth Olympics.”
This year’s Youth Olympics will take place in Buenos Aires in October, by which time Price will still only be 18 years old.
He was, after all, beating fighters considerably older than him en route to a Europeans silver last year.
Price explained: “I’d say my biggest achievement so far was last year’s European silver because I had been boxing a year above my age.
“To get a silver medal, especially in such tough competition, felt good.
“There’s only a handful of us that have ever medalled in it so to get a silver medal a year younger knowing that I have got another chance this year in the same tournament and I won’t be the youngest on the team was great.
“Last year’s tournament was for boxers born in 2000 and 1999 and I was 2000 so really they are a year older which can be a lot really.”
Younger still, both of Price’s little brothers Ellis and Morales are also making waves in the youth boxing sphere and their older sibling once again set the perfect example at last month’s nationals.
“Hopefully they can turn out better than me and Ellis is not doing too bad at the minute,” said Hope.
“He’s a two-time Schoolboy champion and he’s just won a bronze in the European Championships so he’s not doing too bad. We both want each other to do well and we are both the same weight now, even though he is younger. We are different builds.
“I try and teach him what I can and he picks up stuff that I learn so we are learning off each other every day.
“Morales is only eight and to be honest my dad and all of us think he has got the most natural talent.
“He’s not properly training at the minute because he’s a bit young – we just take him down once or twice a week to the boxing club. But he is very naturally talented.”
Reflecting on his own success at last month’s nationals, Hope admitted; “I expected it. I won the title last year so to win it twice in a row is good.
“On to the Europeans now...”