Copyright 2001

[ November 23rd 2001 ]

World champion Johnny Nelson is set to swap his boxing trunks for riding breeches in a bid to win an Olympic gold medal. He revealed his Olympic dream on the eve of his ninth defence of the World Boxing Organisation's cruiserweight title against Ghana's Napoleon Tagoe at the York Hall in Bethnal Green.

The 34-year-old Sheffield fighter has become hooked on equestrian sport after using his ring winnings to buy a hulking showjumper christened Arnie, after film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nelson is being tutored by Jonathan Day, a former rider with the Queens Guard who was a stuntman in the film Tomb Raider.

He said: "Jonathan believes I can go all the way. "The Olympics? Why not? It is like my approach to winning a boxing title - if your mind can conceive it, your body can achieve it. I never got to the Olympics as a boxer, so maybe I'll get there another way."

Promoter Frank Warren doesn't share Nelson's enthusiasm. Fearing his most enduring champion may hurt himself slipping from the saddle, Warren said: "Johnny can take his horse on an early-morning milk round, but jumping fences is too dangerous."

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