RingSide Report

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Ringside Report Looks Back at Boxer Peter Richardson

By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart

Right now, the future of the Olympic games and boxing is much debated. What has fallen off the radar is the distinct possibility that there shall be no more Commonwealth Games. For British boxing that would be a tragedy. Many a boxer has made his way in the amateurs by going to the Commonwealth Games, competing for one of the home nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (under the Good Friday agreement which has brought peace to northern Ireland, Irish boxers in the island of Ireland can opt to fight for Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth as Ireland is not a member and then Ireland in the Olympics), and used that’s a s stepping stone for bigger and greater opportunity in the amateur code.

Namely the Olympics. But the recent decision by Victoria in Australia to cancel their hosting of the next Commonwealths has thrown us all. Just what shall become of it and by extension each of the sports played in the Games is still to be decided. The legacy of British fighters in the Commonwealth has always been stellar.

In the 1994 Commonwealth Games it provided a gold medal for Peter Richardson, 14-3 8 KOs. Prior to that he managed a first-round victory in the 1992 Olympics when he beat Vernon Forrest. Forrest had been the big American hope for a medal and even beaten Shane Mosley in the trials for his shot at Olympic glory! Forrest said afterwards that food poisoning had weakened him, but Richardson was to pay no heed – this was a massive scalp.

But, as always, the headlines don’t tell the real story.

Richardson was a two times Commonwealth Games competitor, having represented England at lightweight in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1990. In his team there was also Robert McCracken current head of boxing for Team GB and the man credited with the resurgence in British Olympic success including with James DeGale and Anthony Joshua, but who was also the coach behind Carl Froch. Unable to medal – England returned from the boxing with two golds – Richie Woodall at light middleweight and Jon Jo Irwin at featherweight with a single bronze courtesy of the middle weight Mark Edwards.

Four years later at the 1994 Games in Victoria, Australia, he managed to go all the way and was the only gold medalist as the other three English medals – a silver and two bronzes – came from bantamweight Spencer Oliver and Danny Costello at flyweight and Danny Williams at super heavyweight.

In between Richardson, had that brilliant win against Forrest and then saw off the Mongolian, Nyamaagiin Altankhuyag in the next round. Unfortunately, that was his Olympic victories done as he met Rumanian Leonard Doroftei in the quarter final. Doroftei was to go on and win a bronze – something he repeated four years later at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The gold medal at his second Commonwealth meanwhile was a fitting end to his amateur career for Richardson. He had also been a two times Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) national champion – at featherweight in 1989, and light welterweight in 1993.

And so, in 1995, on the 23rd of February, this star of the amateur code came into the spotlight in Southwark, London to turn professional. His first fight was against John O’Johnson and having floored Johnson in the 2nd and 5th round, referee Ian John-Lewis oversaw a stoppage win for the debutant in the 5th round.

But the bright lights of success were to elude Richardson as he went 10 fights undefeated until on the 7th of October 1996 at the Lewisham theater, London Rimvydas Bilius stopped him as Richardson had a cut over his eye. Three months later Richardson avenged the defeat at York Hall with a 10 round points win but Bilius had a 21-13-1 record. If Richardson, no matter what he had achieved in the amateurs could not comfortably beat the likes of Bilius, what hope did he have? And so, without ever having fought for a title, on the 18th of November 2000, Richardson fought for the last time in a 4 round points win against journeyman, Costas Katsantonis in Dagenham.

Richardson’s exploits are lost because he was unable to achieve the dizzy heights a second turn around but as a gold medalist, an Olympian and someone who Vernon Forrest lost to, he has a place he fills well in the history of the sport. Perhaps his story was testimony to the difference between the two codes, but no matter what it may be that he was unable to make his way in both, Peter Richardson remains one of the elite, a man in a very small club of Olympian boxers that deserve both praise and admiration.

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