The undefeated British cruiserweight talks getting into boxing, training in lockdown, and the brutal assault bike session he uses to get fighting fit.
Lawrence, you’ve got a big fight on 20th March – how’s the training going for that?
Yeah it’s going well. Like any athlete, you have to work around different things – whether it’s covid or injury or setbacks – but I’m full steam ahead and feeling good, feeling confident.
For me it’s not just about this training camp, but all the training camps leading up to it, so I’m feeling good.
How has the life of a professional boxer been affected by the pandemic?
Obviously it’s been difficult, mainly because there’s less access to everything – from gyms to meal-prep companies.
You have to work around all of those things you would normally take for granted.
I don’t mind it, though; it separates the men from the boys.
When did you first pull on a pair of gloves?
I was 17, 120kg, off the back of a few street fights here and there, and I remember the first day they showed us one or two things on the pads, then made me spar straight away pretty much.
That was interesting, and from there I just fell in love with it. I fell in love with the hard training.
Being overweight, I wasn’t used to being accountable, but it pushed that sense of accountability: make sure you do your press-ups, make sure you make weight.
There’s no hiding anything, because you’re being watched by other boxers and you’re being monitored by your coach – there are people you need to be accountable to.
When did you first think you might be able to make a career out of boxing?
Probably when I sparred Dillian Whyte and AJ, within a few months of each other. One was Olympic gold medallist, the other was his well-known rival, and I held my own with both of them.
From there I thought, maybe I can, and then I qualified for the Olympics and never looked back.
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You won your first four pro fights in the first round – how do you prevent complacency from creeping in when you’re so dominant?
Just knowing that there are harder fights on the horizon, and that the training I do today isn’t for my next fight; it’s for the world title fights later down the line.
All the runs I’ve been on are the recent why now I can be ready for a world title fight within seven weeks.
I’m primed, I’ve done the training, and I’ve got the confidence.
Is training just a necessary evil for you, or do you enjoy pushing yourself and getting as fit as you can?
It’s a mix. Today, for example, I’m sore – you can probably hear from my voice that I am feeling it. This is the life I chose, though.
How do you mentally prepare yourself for a fight?
I don’t, really. I try not to overthink it. I keep it simple and say to myself, this is what I do every day.
Finally, what’s the go-to workout you use to test your conditioning?
I use the assault bike and do intervals of 10 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, for four minutes.
Then I’ll do 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, for another four minutes. I’ll do about six rounds in total.
Lawrence Okolie will face Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO crown on Saturday 20th March.
Photography: Alexander Gough