Team GB boxing skipper Stalker thankful for Olympic chance
TEAM GB boxing captain Tom Stalker is heading to the London 2012 Olympic Games knowing that life could have turned out very differently.
LUCKY: Team GB boxing captain Tom Stalker is aware life could have been very
different for him
The 27-year-old energetic Scouser is ranked number one at 64kg level and will skipper the ten-strong Team GB boxing squad at the Games.
But Stalker, who won Commonwealth gold against teammate Josh Taylor in Delhi in 2010, is aware that he faced prison life had boxing not saved him.
"I've been close to going to jail, and only for GB boxing, I could have gone away," said Stalker, who narrowly missed out on qualification to Beijing.
"A few years before that, before I started boxing, I wasn't the best lad, so I've had chances. I've been really lucky - I believe in fate and everything happens for a reason.
"GB boxing stuck behind me. I hit someone, but they stood up for me and talked about the Olympics, and that I am a good person, even though the judge might not have thought that.
"It was at Crown Court and I would have went to jail. It was about two or three years ago, before the European Championships in 2009, but that judge who gave me a chance, I wrote him a letter when I qualified for the Olympics, to say that when you let someone off, they re-offend.
"I proved that I deserved that chance when I qualified. I felt lucky when I walked out of court to not have gone away. It put everything in boxing and life into perspective.
"I went to the Europeans and won a silver medal - the first Scouser to win one in almost thirty years. That was in Moscow, which was a turning point."
Stalker, who grew up in Huyton, Liverpool is following in the footsteps of his friend, heavyweight David Price, wo captained in 2008, after being picked by performance director Rob McCracken,.
He says Price has offered advice on the captaincy, but Stalker is just delighted that he can set an example to others, including kids back in his home city and his teammates.
"Most definitely I see myself as a role model. I am the most Scousest scally kid from Huyton," he said.
"I've made mistakes and now I'm going to the Olympics. I believe in fate and that everything that's happened has happened for a reason.
"To go to the Olympics and box for your country is an honour, but to be captain of all these great lads is just something I'm so overwhelmed about.
"There's no pressure on me. We've all trained really hard, and there will be pressure when it starts. I'm just going to enjoy everything that comes and enjoy being an Olympian.
"Pricey was captain in Beijing. He's a good pal and he said to me a week ago, don't settle for nothing but gold. He said that he settled for bronze. His advice is just go for it. He says there's a lot of pressure, but that I'll love it.
"As it gets closer, I go into my shell, and not speak to many people, get in the ring and do my job. I've got tunnel vision and that's what I'll have come the Olympics. I'm quietly confident that I'm going to do really well."
© Sportsbeat 2012