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A knockout blow
FOR Eddie Neilson, the Olympics are something of a sore point.
The former heavyweight boxer could have gone to the Munich Games in 1972, but was foiled by timing of the worst kind.
Competing at the ABAs that same year, Neilson lost out to Tim Wood in the quarter-final.
However, when Wood was ruled not big enough to don a Great Britain vest, a British Boxing Board of Control official contact Neilson asking if he would like to take his place.
The answer to the question would have been an unequivocal yes, had Neilson not turned pro a week earlier, and despite enjoying a successful career in the paid ranks which included fights against Joe Bugner and Frank Bruno, to this day Neilson wonders what might have been.
“I had just turned professional and that was that. If only I had left it a week earlier,” said the Swindon-based Neilson.
“It was so close, there must have been so many instances like that all over the country.
“Every time the Olympics comes up I think what might have happened and that I could have gone.
“It would have been amazing, and to come away with even a bronze, I’d have been happy.
“That said, I did OK for a few years (as a pro) and I’m quite happy with what I did.”
Neilson explained that the gap between amateur and pro in the 70s was such that a U-turn would have been impossible.
“I should have had a go at the Olympics but I wasn’t to know,” added the 62-year-old.
“Nowadays I think the authorities would have been a bit lenient and cancelled it (his pro status), but in the 70s there was no way that could have happened.
“The amateurs and professionals didn’t talk to each other or even train in the same gym.”
In spite of missing out on the greatest show on earth, Neilson retains a keen interest in the Games and will be keeping an eye on the fortunes of Britain’s fighters during the London Games.
And the Wiltshire man has tipped 2011 world amateur silver medallist Anthony Joshua as the man to watch from GB’s 10-strong team.
“I know Anthony Joshua is supposed to be a bit tasty, so I will be looking out for his name,” said Neilson.
“He looks the part and he’s got the record to match. I’ve heard some good stories about him.
“The age of 23 or 24 is good for a heavyweight and he looks a good prospect.”