A forlorn figure watched longingly from the shadows as his team-mate stood illuminated on the Olympic podium, about to receive his Gold.
It was a bittersweet moment if ever there was one. How could he, at least outwardly, not be happy for Audley? After all, they were not only countrymen but friends. If his face creased into a smile though, rest assured it was a shallow gesture. Smoke and mirrors, a disguise. Behind the grin lay nothing but regret and sadness, encapsulated in a single, unrelenting thought. "That could have been me up thereâ€¦" Maybe, even, it should have been.
Courtney Fry and Audley Harrison arrived at the Sydney 2000 Games, side by side, with the hopes of a country resting firmly on their well developed shoulders. They were Team GB’s sole boxing representatives, and as such, were both under enormous pressure to perform. We all know Harrison’s story by now, the Edmonton southpaw delivered emphatically. Fry, on the other hand, didn’t even come close. Instead, the 98’ Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist, debilitated into a dud.
In the biggest sporting arena of all, there could have been no starker contrast between the responses of each man to the sheer weight of expectation bestowed upon them. Whereas Poor Courtney was sent packing in
the first-round, Harrison marched on to top the boxing podium on behalf of Great Britain for the first time in thirty-two years. Fry’s Olympic experience was, sadly, as forgettable as Harrison’s was memorable.
“It was disappointing, I didn't perform to the best of my ability,” lamented Fry in the aftermath of his first-round defeat. “I tried to take the fight to him, whereas I should have boxed him, and looked for the openings. To be honest, I don't think he's in my class of fighter. I didn't know anything about him. All I gathered was that he was strong and come-forward. I didn't read the fight as well as I should have done.”
It was a fight that Fry, now 8-1 as a pro, shouldn’t have lost. Success in Sydney would not only have made him a household name, but been an ideal launch pad for a career in the paid ranks. But alas, it wasn’t to be. While
Harrison, still basking in a shower of glory, gleefully signed a Â£1,000,000 contract with the BBC, Fry still lingered in the shadows, his teeth gritted, the same thought swirling around in his head.
It will probably never go away.
This Saturday, Fry will attempt to capture his first major trinket as a professional, and lay some ghost to rest in the process, when he takes on Peter Haymer (15-2-1 3KO’s) for the English Light-Heavyweight title. The
fight is scheduled for 10 rounds, and takes place at the Elephant & Castle Recreational Centre in Southwark, London, England.
Don Caputo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org