Express & Star

Delicious Orie puts in the graft in a bid to hone his craft

Just because you might not have heard much recently from Delicious Orie, doesn't mean he hasn’t been busy.


On the contrary, six months on from the euphoria of winning gold at Birmingham 2022, life is more hectic than ever for the Bilston super heavyweight as he works toward the next goals in his boxing career.

February is not yet finished and already Orie has completed training camps in Italy and the USA. Next up is a trip to Kazakhstan in early March, with the long-term sights firmly on June’s European Games and the first chance to bag a qualifying spot for Paris 2024.

“If I reach the final, I get that golden ticket for the Olympics,” he says. “It is these times, when you are working behind closed doors, which are the most important.

“There is nowhere near as much noise, or as much hype. But this is where you get good, honest work in and find those improvements which you can then show when the spotlight is back.”

The spotlight shone fiercely on Orie last summer. His remarkable backstory, having moved to the UK from Russia aged seven, guaranteed he was a Birmingham 2022 poster boy long before he defeated India’s Sagat Ahlawat to win gold in front of a raucous NEC crowd on the Games’ penultimate night.

Those memories will forever be special, yet Orie’s focus quickly shifted from the celebrations to the cold mechanics of his boxing on route to victory.

“I want to be a lot better than I was at the Commonwealths. I need to be,” he says.

“I have watched all the fights from Birmingham back and there are things I need to improve on if I am going to be on the podium at the Olympics.

“I refuse to be complacent. That is very dangerous in boxing. The moment you start thinking you are on your game and have cracked it, you are in trouble.”

For a boxer who only took up the sport aged 18, having been inspired by Anthony Joshua, there remains a steep learning curve. The recent trip to Colorado saw Orie spar Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Richard Torrez along with several other top US prospects.

Delicious Orie

“It was a very good experience out there,” he says. “I got to train with the current heavyweights and super heavyweights out there, the next big talent in America. They will be my competition in the future and the people I will be facing.

“In Italy I went up against heavyweights from Italy, Croatia and Finland. Both camps were tough but I am sure they will pay massive dividends over the next few months.

“The way I look is every opponent is a different puzzle to figure out. Styles make fights. You can be the fittest boxer and be very good at your running, your track work and urgency. But the only way I am going to improve is sparring and boxing against different styles.

“My aim this year is to mix it with as many different types of opponent as possible, varying from height, weight, southpaw, backfoot, counter puncher, brute, brawler – just get that skillset so when it really matters – at the European Games – I have it in my locker.

“I’d much rather make my mistakes in camp, behind closed doors, so when the tournaments come round, I am closer to being the finished product.”

An additional challenge for Orie and his GB team-mates is to ignore the arguments currently going on in their sport outside the ring.

It appears unlikely, for example, he or any other GB boxer will compete at May’s men’s world championships. Britain is among several nations to have already pulled out of next month’s women’s tournament in protest at boxers from Belarus and Russia being allowed to compete and the International Boxing Association (IBA) has shown little sign of changing its stance.

The world championships had already been stripped of its Olympic qualifying status, due to an ongoing row between the IOC and the IBA. This week brought another twist, with the IBA announcing its own qualifying system regardless, despite not having the jurisdiction to do so.

Confusing for those both inside and outside the sport, the situation could easily be distracting for those competing, yet Orie is refusing to get sidetracked by politics.

“It is out of our control,” he says. “All I can do is focus on my training. Ultimately, the situation is bigger than boxing, bigger than sport. It is affecting a lot of people.

“I know GB Boxing are on the case and looking after my best interests. I know I am in a good position so I don’t worry about that. My No.1 priority is to be fit, so I can go whenever.

“Of course, it is a shame, because I want to compete and have as many bouts as possible. What makes me feel better is everyone is going through the same thing, not just British boxers. The way I always look at it is I am very fortunate to be in this position.”

Orie is making his weekly Monday afternoon journey from the Black Country to his GB training base at the Sheffield as he talks. It is a journey he knows well and a routine he believes will eventually deliver big rewards, both in Paris next year and beyond.

Last summer provided an intoxicating first taste of glory and fame. Orie even made an appearance on Question of Sport.

But in a sport where one punch, one second can change your destiny, he knows it is the unseen work during long and sometimes lonely hours in the gym which matters most.

“Fans only see the end result, which is fine,” he says. “I knew it would be this way. I’ve set myself up for months of solid graft.

“This is perfect for me because it gives me a chance to work behind closed doors, focus on my craft and just get better.”