On a summer afternoon with former Olympic bronze medallist & current British & Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion David Price, we discuss his up and coming fight with Audley Harrison – debating which Harrison may turn up – Olympic medals and selling out the Echo Arena in his home city of Liverpool. This would lead nicely on to John “Digger” Barnes and Pricey’s own love affair with Liverpool Football Club.
It left me feeling that Britain had in fact found a new boxing hero; a people’s champion that the ordinary man and woman can relate to. Liverpool has had its fair share of boxing legends down the years and I would leave hoping that Liverpool had once again found a new legend in the shape of the likeable David Price. After all the bad publicity within the sport lately, it is with a refreshing difference that Price represents all that is good about our true sporting heroes – a true ambassador for the heavyweight game.
Other than obviously the boxing which sports were you interested in growing up?
Living within a stone’s throw of Anfield, I was into football from a very young age; I loved going to the games and especially travelling to away games, which I enjoyed more than anything. For a youngster I would get a great buzz from those away matches.
It is well documented that you are a big Liverpool FC supporter, so how do you believe they will fare this season?
I think us as supporters perhaps have to lower our expectations and give the manager time to get things right. It’s difficult to do because after all “We are Liverpool Football Club”. We have some world class players, so I am keeping fingers crossed that we can finish within the top 4.
What was first game you attended?
It was a cup game against Brighton which we went on to draw 2-2 in the F.A. Cup in 1991 I think. I was already hooked on the Red men but after this experience, it was the real start. Everyone has that feeling when you go to your first game and you can’t wait to return – seeing players close up, there is nothing better.
Who was your favourite player? Being born in 1983 you must have heard the great tales of Liverpool’s great sides and players gone?
Oh it has to be “Digger” John Barnes – he was a fantastic player not only for us but I think he was underrated by other supporters in England. There was a time between ’87 and ’91 when he was unplayable. I also have a great deal of respect for Steven Gerrard, especially being a local lad like myself. He will certainly go done as one of our greatest players and one of the best in Europe. Class player.
Liverpool has always had a huge history of sporting heroes, who ultimately get treated like Gods – how have you found your own fame affecting the city and the people? Have you had any strange requests for autographs and such?
Ha! Ha! No strange requests. You know I feel incredibly honoured that people have been so supportive of me and I am genuinely taken by how positive people are towards me. Yes there are times when people want your attention when maybe I am out with my family but the way I see it is that they are the paying public who support me through different avenues, coming to fights or paying to watch on TV. It’s not just Liverpool people all over the UK I am getting a great response from people.
Has watching the London 2012 Olympics brought back lots of memories of Beijing in 2008 when you managed to come home with a Bronze medal?
Obviously it stirs memories of my own time fighting at the Olympics, but that time has gone. I did lose a fight to only win Bronze in Beijing so right now my mind-set is I couldn’t really care less about that bronze because I am on a journey, a different stage of my career. There will be plenty of time to look back once I have retired in a nostalgic way, but that time is not yet. Having said all that I am incredibly proud to say I am an Olympian.
How do you rate your Bronze medal in comparison to your British & Commonwealth Heavyweight Titles?
The British & Commonwealth titles are great titles to win as a professional fighter. This is where I am now in my career and those belts look fantastic on, it gives me a great sense of pride to know I am the best heavyweight in Britain and the Commonwealth.
Unlucky 13 and still undefeated, you now take on former Olympian Audley Harrison how do you see that fight going?
Well I am not at all superstitious, as for the Harrison fight you know I am working incredibly hard already, although we have yet to start the high intensity stuff. All I can say is I will work very, very, hard for the fight. I believe 100% that I will beat Harrison – I am younger, stronger and hungrier – but not for a moment will we underestimate him. We know what he is capable of.
Do you feel like you are in effect in a no win situation given the public’s perception of Harrison? If you win people will be reticent to give you the credit against Audley Harrison and his continued failure to live up to his passed hype?
Of course it can be regarded exactly like that, if Audley does not turn up to fight, but it takes two to fight and I will be going all out to give the fans what I believe they all want. I don’t pick my opponents – Frank Maloney does – but I fight anybody he puts in front of me and anybody who thinks that Harrison has not got ability does not appreciate the fight game. If he turns up with his “A” game then I predict a great fight.
Will you be doing anything differently during your training regime specifically for this fight?
Harrison is a tall southpaw which gives its own difficulty, but we are already working on it. Me & Franny (Smith) are beginning to prep for any specifics that fighting Harrison may provide – sparring partners need to be of a particular style, but we will be ready when we go into the training camp.
Your professional fight debut came on the undercard at The Echo arena in 2009, now you top the bill against Harrison back at that venue – can you quite believe this has happened so quickly?
It really is quite difficult to appreciate how quickly this has come along, I always wanted this and believed in myself that I could get to this place. This fight is already close to being a complete sell-out which is a huge compliment to me from the supporters and fight fans, I can’t thank them enough. At the end of the day they are paying my wages. I fully appreciate that.
What would you say is the best thing you experience now you are becoming such a household name?
Just the great response I get from people since winning the British & Commonwealth titles. I do get stopped a lot more and asked for autographs or photos. I like to think I am a down to earth kind of person so it took a bit of getting used to, but I don’t feel superior to people just because I have experienced a bit of success.
You know it’s great to think something I do can inspire others, which is the best thing.
How did you find your spell as a pundit recently? Is this somewhere you see as a possible side line alongside your boxing career?
I have enjoyed it immensely. I felt quite comfortable in that environment, and I love to chat anyhow, so being given the opportunity to express my views on boxing is of course ideal for me. I have appeared on Sky and LFCTV a few times now so you get more and more comfortable.
As far as this being a career after I retire from boxing, I am not too sure – I am hoping to make as much out of my boxing career as to provide for my family and not have to work again – that has to be the plan I suppose for us all and I am no different.
How do you relax outside the ring, what does David Price do away from the sport?
My young family keep me occupied, but I also like to go out with my circle of friends. I have the same group of friends that I have had over the last 10 years or more and it enables you to stay rounded and keep your feet on the ground. We go on holiday together and that group is a strong unit that we all protect from outsiders
There has been a huge discussion about our greatest Olympian lately who would be your top three?
Well the way I see it is that some of the athletes get more than one opportunity to win medals at the Olympics, although these games have slightly changed that. For me it has to be Carl Lewis who was a great all-round athlete, now however with what Usain Bolt has been able to achieve, he has to be up there.
Then boxing has had its great champions, when you think what can go wrong in a boxing ring. People like Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon, the Cuban boxers, who would both win three consecutive gold medals at three different Olympic games. True greats.
What would you advise to any young people looking up to you and thinking about getting involved in sport or particularly boxing?
Well a boxing gym can be a very intimidating place, when you first step inside those doors, but the confidence you gain from taking that first step will be worth it. The hardest bit is dipping your toe in but what is there to lose? Nothing.
You will never know what hidden sporting talents you may possess unless you take that initial step. It reminds me of my first time going into a boxing gym; I was unaware how much talent I had and not everyone will go on to be a professional athlete but you will gain an immense amount of self-confidence and fitness.
Finally David do you have a message for your fans around the UK and the world ahead of the Harrison fight?
Just a huge amount of thanks for all the support I have received – I see my career path as one we are all travelling along, we are in this together. Without the fans paying at the turnstiles or taking up TV coverage it’s very difficult to have a good career. I will try my utmost to bring the fans the success they and I want.
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