The English Institute of Sport in Sheffield has been home to a long line of British boxing stars, with Amir Khan, Anthony Joshua and Nicola Adams all winning Olympic medals after stints at the base. European Champion Joe Cordina is hoping to follow in the footsteps of these illustrious names.
Welshman Cordina won European Championships lightweight gold in Bulgaria in August, following on from his bronze medal in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and hopes to add a World Championship medal to his collection.
Despite vast Commonwealth and Olympic success, the World Championships have proven to be a tougher test for Britain’s boxers. Not since Frankie Gavin won gold in 2007 has Britain had an amateur World Champion, but Cordina is confident this time will be different.
“The whole team is raring to go, we’ve all trained hard and are set to go. We just want to get out there and bring some medals back,” he says.
Cordina says he was “on top of the world” in August after winning European Championships gold.
“There was nothing that was going to stop me - that gold medal has given me massive confidence and I can’t wait to take that in to the World Champs.”
“I’ve been flying since. I only had a couple of days off then I was straight back into it. So I’ve had a pretty long training camp for the Worlds.”
With just over 300 days to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Cordina is focussed on the challenge in front of him rather than his Olympic dream.
“You take one step at a time, there’s no point looking on to Rio when I’ve got a job to do in Doha. I’ve got to do the business first and then I’ll start thinking about Rio – I’d love to go and bring back some medals.”
The 23-year-old played football and rugby until the age of sixteen, and credits his parents for nurturing his career in boxing.
“My parents are boxing fans so I always watched the big fights – my Dad used to tell me about all of the greats so when I first started boxing, he pushed me to watch boxers like Sugar Ray Leonard. He was the one I’d look up to and try to emulate.
“I played football from the age of seven for Cardiff Schools Academy and the Football Association of Wales and for rugby, I played for Cardiff Blues and East Wales as a kid too but I stopped both when I was 16.”
Cordina is enjoying life in Sheffield, working with Performance Director Rob McCracken and the rest of the impressive GB Boxing programme at the EIS.
“When it’s time to get back to work, you’re always looking forward to getting back. It’s a place where a lot of Olympic and professional champions have trained and it’s good to be in that environment.
“You’ve got a lot of other athletes there too, like Jess Ennis-Hill – it gives you that little extra push seeing athletes like that training so hard.
“It’s amazing working with Rob, he’s got all of the experience and knows the game inside out. The programme is really great too, without Rob we probably wouldn’t have done as well as we have.”
With his eyes on next month’s World Championships and Rio looming on the horizon, Cordina is determined to jab, punch and weave his way to more medals, but what does he think of London 2012 Olympic medallist, Anthony Ogogo on Strictly Come Dancing?
“I know I’m a better dancer than Anthony, but that’s definitely not something I’m interested in!”, he jokes.
Joe Cordina is one of 1,300 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery supported World Class Programme.