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Anthony Joshua inspired ‘clinically obese’ Lawrence Okolie to quit McDonalds and lose five STONE – now he can match close friend’s world title record

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Anthony Joshua inspired ‘clinically obese’ Lawrence Okolie to quit McDonalds and lose five STONE – now he can match close friend’s world title record

Lawrence Okolie weighted more than 19 stone and was working in the McDonald’s at Victoria when he managed to watch Anthony Joshua win Olympic Gold on his lunch break.

Something triggered inside the future world title contender that afternoon in 2012, with it being fair to say he has drastically changed his life since.

Okolie turned his life around from flipping burgers to chasing world titles
Getty

Born Ikechukwu to Nigerian parents and raised in Hackney, Okolie was bullied at school for his height, weight and heritage.

A visit to his GP exposed the harsh reality of his situation at the time for the youngster; he was declared clinically obese and warned he must start to lose weight.

As a teenager, with his self-esteem undoubtedly fragile due to the nature of the bullying, Okolie had far simpler hopes and dreams for the future.

“I was there for like a year and a half,” he told talkSPORT’s James Savundra of his job in the fast food industry. “Initially, it started off great, because there were lots of young people there. A few girls that I tried to, you know, chat to.

Okolie was bullied at school and told by his GP to lose weight after clocking 19 stone

“But otherwise it was good, I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t lie to you, it’s not the worst place to work!”

His GP offered him a free gym membership, but it failed to motivate the youngster until he was involved in a fight in school.

And when the 17-year-old watched Joshua claim the super-heavyweight gold medal at the Olympic Games, it triggered something within him.

‘The Sauce’ was part of the successful Team GB Squad which went to Rio in 2016
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Whilst studying at the University of East London, he was picked up by the Team GB set-up after twice winning the English University National Championships.

Although he was unable to replicate the success of Joshua at Rio in 2016, Okolie did collect a bronze medal and was quickly snapped by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing to start his journey in the paid ranks.

Standing at 6ft 5ins and now comfortably able to hit the cruiserweight limit (200lbs or 14st 4lbs), ‘The Sauce’ is now 15-0 and on the brink of becoming a world champion.

On Saturday night, Okolie will face the dangerous Krzysztof Głowacki for the vacant WBO world title having already held the British, Commonwealth and European cruiserweight titles.

Joshua is now a friend, business owner and sparring partner with Okolie
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Okolie stopped Nikodem Jeżewski in his 15th fight, victory in his 16th would make him a world champion
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Glowacki is no slouch, however; hoping to recapture the WBO belt for the third time in his career having only ever lost to the irrepressible Oleksandr Usyk and then to Mairis Breidis.

If Okolie can get past the Polish veteran, he would equal Joshua’s record of needing just 16 professional fights to become a world champion. The London 2012 Gold medallist blew Charles Martin away in just two rounds back in 2016.

And ‘AJ‘ continues to help Okolie in and out of the ring with his performances and the way he conducts himself.

“I think by, mainly just his example,” he added. “That’s probably one of the best things he has done.

Mentor Joshua is hoping to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era
Mark Robinson/Matchroom

“I think he won the title in similar sort of time and just all round, just dealing with the occasion.

“So I’m not the sort of person that needs to be handheld through situations like this, so it has just been calm.”

Considering nine years ago he was hoping to own his own burger joint and lose a bit of weight, the 28-year-old has certainly flipped his life around.

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