Fortunate Frazer Clarke battled back from a life-threatening stabbing and veering drastically off the rails to book his place at Tokyo 2020, writes Will Jennings.
Burton bruiser Clarke, 29, was this week officially selected as part of an 11-strong boxing team set to descend on Japan this summer.
And that moment capped an emotional sporting rollercoaster for the super heavyweight ace, who has overcome extended periods of adversity, heading down the ‘wrong path’ and being stabbed three times on a night out in 2016 to secure his seat on the plane.
Clarke says he’ll never forget that ‘dreadful’ experience but hopes scaling the Olympic heights can give him a platform to educate the next generation of troubled UK youngsters.
Clarke, the 2018 Commonwealth champion, said: “It’s at the forefront of my mind.
“In 2016, I was getting up to stuff that I shouldn’t have been, and I’m not afraid to admit I drifted off the path a little bit.
“I was out drinking and I got into an unfortunate heated altercation which I thought was a fight. I was stabbed three times – once in the neck and twice in the leg.
“At the time, I had a two-week-old daughter and it was a really dreadful time for me and my family.
“I can remember what was going through my head: ‘am I going to be here to bring up my daughter?’ That was the only thing on my mind. “Boxing, and everything else, took a backward seat and was the last thing I fought of.
“Life is very, very precious and I’ve seen what happened to me happen to other people all round England. They’re tragedies and it ruins so many lives.”
Clarke now has a crack at building on that storied Commonwealth triumph in the Gold Coast and added: “I will definitely do my best to spread that positive message – Olympic medal or not, just be the person I am and if I can spread that and get to one person, then I’ll do that 100 per cent.
“It’s almost become cool to carry a knife – but it’s the total opposite. With social media, it’s becoming glamourous to be a villain or a knife carrier – but it makes you nothing but a coward.
“I really want to push with the anti-knife stuff because I believe it’s a massive problem – and it doesn’t have to be.”
Clarke scooped European silver in 2017 and Commonwealth gold three years ago but has long been chasing an Olympic debut.
And now he’s finally done it, toppling the quartet of Marko Milun, Berat Acar, Ivan Veryasov and Mourad Aliev at this month’s Paris qualifier to book his place at the Games.
Clarke, who became a dad for the second time to son Trent last month, will be joined in Tokyo by the likes of fellow boxing stars Lauren Price, Cheavon Clarke and Caroline Dubois.
He’s relishing a crack at Japanese glory and hopes immersing himself in the moment can cap a remarkable sporting journey.
“It’s amazing and I’m overwhelmed – it means a lot to me and my nearest and dearest, so I’m really happy.
“For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m going to a tournament to enjoy it.
“I’m going to do it with a smile on my face – and hopefully I can put a smile back on the nation’s face after the terrible last year we’ve had.
“I’m going to get everything I can on video in Tokyo and hopefully make the best memories for life.”
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