'I want to be Mayor of Wolverhampton': Boxer Ben Whittaker eyes up Olympic gold medal and gold chain

Black Country boxer Ben Whittaker is eyeing up a gold medal - and becoming the Mayor of Wolverhampton - after a narrow quarter-final win at the Olympics.

Ben Whittaker, right, reacts with delight after beating Kena Machado of Brazil on points
Ben Whittaker, right, reacts with delight after beating Kena Machado of Brazil on points

The Darlaston light-heavyweight is guaranteed an Olympic medal after edging out Brazil’s Keno Machado on a 3:2 split decision at Tokyo 2020.

The 24-year-old will now face big-hitting Imam Khataev of the Russian Olympic Committee on Sunday morning.

After an exuberant celebration around the ring when his quarter-final win was confirmed, Whittaker said he was aiming to get hold of a gold medal - and a gold chain.

“Sunday is where it gets real now," he said.

"I want to go back home with the gold medal and become the Mayor of Wolverhampton!

“I want one of those nice chains on my neck, calling all the shots. Everyone in Wolverhampton will have a nice ice grill and a nice big chain, courtesy of Ben Whittaker.”

In a clash between two boxers with almost identical styles, Whittaker claimed victory after a nervy final round.

The former Wodensborough and Firewalker amateur had tears his in eyes after leaving the ring as the achievement sunk in.

Whittaker told the BBC: “I have been crying like a baby.

“It was weird. Everyone has heard me for the last week and the last month saying a bronze is nothing, silver is nothing. I truly did mean that.

“But when the win came, I had a roar and a little celebration and then it hit me: ‘You know what you’ve done, Ben? You know what you’ve done?

“All those years I have watched the Olympics, all those years I have been in the gym with Olympians and they tell you their story.

“When it hits you, it is a weird feeling. The coaches say you are going to be on that wall in Sheffield. I need a haircut now. I don’t want to be on there with messy hair!”

After Whittaker took the first round on three of the five judges’ scorecards, it was Machado who edged the second to set up a crucial final stanza.

Though the Brazilian pushed forward, it was Whittaker who landed the cleaner punches. Both fighters raised their hands at the final bell but after a short, anxious wait it was he who was declared the winner.

“I knew this would be a hard fight,” said Whittaker. “I am a confident, arrogant lad and I am not going to lie, this morning I felt a bit weird. My legs felt heavy and my stomach was twisting.

“But I listened to the corner and the tactics were great. It doesn’t matter whether it was a split or unanimous."

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