Delicious Orie interview: Two goals for Paris Olympics - win gold and inspire like Anthony Joshua

Team GB’s super-heavyweight talks to Standard Sport about an unusual path into boxing, wanting to emulate Anthony Joshua and his ambitions for the professional game
Delicious Orie will represent Team GB at the Olympics in Paris this summer
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Matt Verri4 hours ago

Delicious Orie’s parents can be forgiven for feeling fairly confused when their son revealed his plans to pursue a new career.

“Growing up I completely avoided conflict, never got involved in any fighting, and never showed any interest in it,” Orie says of his life before that particular conversation in 2016.

Boxing, then, was not the obvious choice, and yet, eight years later, the family will be at the Paris Olympics this summer to watch Orie attempt to win super-heavyweight gold for Team GB.

He will emulate his idol should he do so, with four minutes and 32 seconds of Anthony Joshua’s illustrious career having the potential to prove the genesis of another golden moment for British boxing. Less than two rounds; enough for Joshua to stop Charles Martin and become world champion in 2016, and for Orie to start dreaming. 

Then 18, and having never previously heard of Joshua, he stumbled upon that bout and began researching. Immediately inspired to follow the same path, Orie wanted to become Olympic champion before he had thrown a jab.

“If it was just a brute who won a world title, I couldn’t connect with that,” the 26-year-old says. “But Anthony Joshua brought professionalism. The way he conducts himself, his approach to training — that resonated with me. It just happened to be boxing.”

Anthony Joshua’s win over Charles Martin proved the start of Delicious Orie’s boxing journey
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Orie was at the time working several jobs at once — McDonald’s and Sports Direct among his employers — to raise enough money to send himself to university. Born to a Russian mother in Moscow, Orie arrived in the UK at the age of seven, not speaking any English. Teenage dreams of becoming a basketball player were derailed by not possessing a British passport, which prevented travel to the United States and then also left him ineligible for student finance.

“It came from a place of anger, frustration and disappointment,” Orie says of his determination to overcome those funding obstacles. A first-class honours degree in Business and Management was his reward.

There is an obvious temptation to lean into comparisons with Joshua; both came to the sport at 18, both have Nigerian fathers and, if the Team GB formula delivers again, both will hold an Olympic medal by the end of the summer. This, however, is not the same script dusted off for another reading.

“If it wasn’t for boxing, I could have been doing something else,” Orie says. “I would have loved to have been a lecturer at a university.

“Boxing didn’t save me. Boxing didn’t find me. I found it and I’m using my attributes to excel in it.” 

The super-heavyweight division has, even aside from Joshua, been a reliable source of Olympic medals for British fighters, stretching from Audley Harrison in 2000 to the likes of David Price, Joe Joyce and Frazer Clarke in more recent Games.

You don’t play boxing. You have to be professional, live life like a monk

Orie speaks with a quiet confidence when discussing the possibility of following suit, even as he acknowledges his range of emotions as Paris draws ever closer.

“I would be lying to you if I said I was just excited, and that I’m going to smack everybody and win,” Orie admits.

“It’s nerve-wracking. The whole world will be watching. But I know that I’m more than capable of getting that gold medal. I’ve got the best team behind me, the best country behind me — we’re going to do it.”

There have been offers to forgo the Olympics and turn professional, promoters keen to have discussions even since he took Commonwealth gold on home soil in 2022, but all have been swiftly knocked back.

“My dream really has been to represent Great Britain in the Olympics — that will mean everything,” he says. “When I’m 70 years old and looking back, I know that being able to represent Team GB and win a medal for them will have made it a life worth living.”

Delicious Orie won gold for England at the Commonwealth Games in 2022
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The plan is for Orie to enter the professional ranks after the Olympics, with time then of the essence for a man who does not seem himself in the sport beyond the age of 35. “That’s when you then have to think about how we’re going to get to world-title level in that timeframe. I’m looking to go all the way,” Orie insists.

Will he stick to that when ego and financial incentives present an appealing case to keep rolling the dice? “There’s always fresh people ready to take your head off,” he warns. “You don’t play boxing. You have to be professional, live life like a monk. Completely sacrifice everything in your life. Then you get to a certain age and think about what the next thing is.”

These are decisions for another day, but his motivation for fighting brings us back to the Paris Olympics. Most in Orie’s position would speak with a tunnel vision, the fulfilling of an eight-year ambition on the horizon and the jeopardy of sport at the elite level an ineluctable danger, but there is a determination that he is not the only one for whom this proves a defining summer.

“When you’re a kid, you don’t notice inspiration,” he says. “You just subconsciously believe. It’s so powerful, it’s insane. I’m a real life walking example of it. 

“I would love to do that to the younger generation. Kids and young adults just need somebody to tell them that things are possible. It can completely change their life. I have two aims at the Paris Olympics. First, win that medal, look good. Second one is to inspire.”

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