First coming to widespread prominence in 2000, Audley Harrison became the first Briton to claim Olympic boxing gold in 32 years with the Super Heavyweight title at the Sydney Games. His victory Down Under played a huge role in laying the foundations for subsequent British Olympic boxing success and his legacy in the fight game lives on in the UK.
Having turned his life around after troubled beginnings in London, the southpaw and Brunel University graduate worked his way through the amateur ranks to take the British Super Heavyweight title in 1997 and again in 1998 before following up on his promise with Commonwealth gold in the same weight division in Kuala Kumpur a year later. Audley then founded the Amateur Boxing Union of England that campaigned and petitioned the then Sports Minister, Tony Banks, and was instrumental in securing funding for Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games boxers’ training camps and qualifying bouts.
Awarded an MBE after his Sydney success, Audley turned professional as a heavyweight in 2001 and set up his own company, A Force Promotions. He agreed a ground-breaking £1 million direct broadcast deal with the BBC to cover his first 10 pro fights, the first British boxer to do such a thing, and in the process bringing boxing back on to terrestrial TV. He immediately began turning heads among both the boxing fraternity and the wider public with a series of impressive victories and secured partnerships with blue chip corporate brands, including Cantor Fitzgerald, Rover and Cadburys.
Audley relocated to the US in 2003 where he began sparring with experienced American heavyweights. His winning ways continued and in 2004 he took the World Boxing Foundation World Belt from the unbeaten Dutchman, Richel Hersisia, in just four rounds. He defended his title twice before injury forced him out for a year despite maintaining an unbeaten record.
Yet his mantra of ‘Never Give Up’ and a view that setbacks pave the way for comebacks saw him return in fine form and by 2010 he became European champion, winning his rematch with Michael Sprott by a devastating knockout in the dying seconds of the final round. He had fought most of the bout with one arm, having torn his pec muscle in the 3rd round for the second time in his career.
Audley had finally earnt his World title shot. Coming up against David Haye in Manchester, he fell just short of his dream but, retiring in 2015, he ended his professional career with a record of 31 wins in 38 fights, 23 by knockout, and just seven losses, three of which he avenged in rematches.
A high profile and sometimes controversial career saw Audley also win the British Masters title in 2012 along with the Prizefighter title in both 2009 and 2013 before he hung up his gloves for good in early 2015.
Audley lives in California with his wife, Raychel and two children, where they own an award-winning hair salon & vegan haircare line. In recent years he has made a name for himself outside the ring with appearances in the 2011 edition of Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Big Brother in the summer of 2014, where his popularity with the public saw him finish as runner-up.