Portsmouth boxer closing in on Olympic dream

Jonathan Francois, right, is chasing his Olympic dream
Jonathan Francois, right, is chasing his Olympic dream

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JONATHAN FRANCOIS is out to make his Olympic dream a reality.

The Portsmouth boxer stands on the brink of securing a place at the Rio Games this summer.

Francois can complete a meteoric rise from novice boxer to Olympian with victory at the Aiba Open Boxing qualifying tournament.

That begins today in Argentina, and the Gym 01 talent knows medalling at the event will be enough to see him on the plane to Brazil.

Doing that would represent a sensational achievement for Francois – who joined his club as a complete beginner three years ago.

Francois will boxing for Grenada at the competition at 69kg.

It’s a sizeable task ahead for the 21-year-old but his coach, James Connor, believes he is capable of rising to the occasion.

And that would represent an inspirational achievement and example of what can be achieved with the right mix of talent and dedication.

Connor said: ‘It’s’ good news for Jonathan to be there. Hopefully he does well.

‘It’s a Portsmouth boxer and a great achievement for him.

‘For someone who joined University as an absolute novice to be doing that three years later is amazing really.

‘This is the biggest event for an amateur sportsman. To think Jonathan could be there blows my mind.

‘In the Pan-Am qualifiers he lost to the world number seven on a close decision after beating a good lad.

‘So he can given anyone a run for their money – even the world’s best.

‘I wouldn’t put anything past him – Jonathan has that kind of talent.

‘It’s funny to think about how he was. He was a quiet lad who didn’t talk to anybody.

‘Now he’s reaping the benefits of working hard in the sport.

‘It’s going to be hard, but if anyone can do it it’s Jonathan Francois.

‘It’s great for him and great for our club. He’s an example for aspiring boxers.

‘He’s basically a lad who started from nothing and is now achieving all this. He’s an inspiration.’

Francois goes into the qualifier with momentum after putting an injury-hit period behind him.

But the fact he holds victories over Great Britain’s Olympic hopeful, Cyrus Pattinson, and former ABA elite champion Kelvin Fawaz is an indication of his ability.

Connor said: ‘He’s feeling good and he’s never been so sharp.

‘He’s had a bad year with lots of injuries but has got back into it.

‘Jonathan is back where he needs to be, and, on that form, is confident of beating anyone.

‘I am as well, because, when he’s firing on all cylinders he’s a real handful.

‘There’s no doubt he’s very confident. I honestly believe he’s capable of pulling it off.’