Light-heavyweight George Crotty believes he is fully prepared and ready to medal at the European Championships in Armenia this week. Crotty is in action on the first day of the tournament, as he faces Ukraine’s Ivan Sapun, and looks to claim a major medal.
It’s a far cry from his last appearance in a major championship when he stepped between the ropes for the first time in a year, and the 28-year-old Royston fighter is entering the tournament full of confidence following his recent results.
“It’s been a busy start to the year and I’d had some great preparation since the World Championships,” Crotty said. “Because of Covid, I ended up having a year out of the ring and a lot of ring rust, so my first fight back was the first round of the Worlds, so it’s safe to say it was a tough challenge.
“Since then, I’ve been to two tournaments and had six fights, including the Strandja tournament where I lost to the Uzbek in the quarter finals. Then I’ve just been out to Finland, where I won the tournament around five-to-six weeks ago, so I’m definitely much more prepared for this one.”
Crotty has previously represented his country alongside serving in the Royal Navy as a Marine. However, as he has established himself as the leading light-heavyweight in the GB setup, Crotty explained that the Navy are fully backing him as he pursues his boxing ambitions.
Now he is being fully backed by the Navy, as he focuses on securing a spot on the Olympic squad in 2024 and after waiting in the wings for his opportunity to compete in the major tournaments, he believes he can now push on – solely concentrating on fighting.
“I’m in the Marines but the Navy have been great to me and have let me fight for GB,” He said. “I’ve been given an elite level sportsman contract with the Navy, which not many others get and they have really backed me. At the end of the day, I’m not just representing GB, I’m representing them as well. They’ve signed me off and have given me their full backing to get to Tokyo, so I won’t be out on deployment, it will be full focus on this.
“Beforehand, I was following Ben Whittaker and missing out on the big tournaments, and rightly so because of how good Ben is. Despite this, the Navy were still great and happy for me to stay on with GB and push towards the Olympic Games in Paris, which I’m very grateful for.”
Crotty will also be one of the first fighters in action from the GB camp, alongside Wales’ Taylor Bevan on the opening day in Armenia. It will be a very different experience to the World Championships when due to the draw, he had to wait almost a week for his first fight.
He is also looking forward to testing himself against the best that Europe has to offer and that the experience he has built up during his time in the GB setup will set him in good stead. Now, after his predecessor Whittaker has moved on to the pro ranks with an Olympic silver medal to his name, Crotty can push himself forward as GB’s top fighter in the 80kg division.
“With these tournaments, sometimes it can be hard as once the draw has been made, you can end up waiting around for your fight. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and then when the draw, everyone switches into fight mode. For me at the worlds the draw was on the Sunday and I didn’t fight until the Saturday so I had to wait a week to get the ball rolling whilst everyone else was having their fights.
“So, it was tough to stay sharp and focused. Whereas when I was in Finland, I fought Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that was it. But that is all part and parcel of these tournaments.
“The tournament has come around very quickly and there is no doubt how tough this is going to be. All the nations send their number 1 fighter, whereas at other tournaments sometimes they send some of the lesser ranked fighters. So you have to prove what you have in every fight at this level and not get complacent.
“I was always behind Ben and had to remain patient. Ben was exceptional and you only have to look at the medals he won as proof but now it is my turn and I want to get my hands on all those medals as well. When I went to the World’s, I was a bit like a rabbit in the headlights due to my inexperience at the top level.
“I saw the squad be so successful in Tokyo and then there was such a quick turnaround and we were in there in Serbia. I’ve done a lot of learning over the last six-to-seven months and I’ve got some great results, so I feel I’m more than happy to be thrown in at the deep end now.”