The super-heavyweight from Burton was overlooked for selection at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Frazer Clarke was overcome with emotion as he reflected on his life-changing experience with GB Boxing after falling short in his bid to reach the final in the men’s Olympic super-heavyweight category.
Clarke was overlooked for selection at London 2012 and Rio 2016 – where Anthony Joshua and Joe Joyce won gold and silver respectively for Team GB – but was handed an overdue opportunity at Tokyo, ultimately settling for bronze.
The 29-year-old from Burton was beaten, stopped in the third round after a particularly nasty cut opened up over his right eye, by number one seed Bakhodir Jalolov, with the Uzbekistani set to face Richard Torrez in the final.
Clarke admitted afterwards the semi-final bout would be his last in the amateur ranks and was close to tears as he described with some fondness his time at Sheffield with other boxers under the tutelage of Rob McCracken and co.
“This team, I’ve spent more than a quarter of my life with them,” he said. “I’d been on an airplane twice before I got to GB Boxing. I was flying 10 to 15 times a year. Different countries, different experiences.
“As close of a family as I’ve ever had. The fact it is over and that was my last amateur contest for GB Boxing is, you can probably hear it in my voice, it’s emotional. They have been good to me.
“I’ve got four or five dads in there, four or five mothers, sisters, uncles. They are all fantastic people. Forget the boxing they are all fantastic people. They have all got good hearts.
“What they try to do is turn young men and women with not much direction to something. Whether that’s Olympic champion or not, they are trying to give us an opportunity, guide us, teach us, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.
“Hopefully one day I can give my services back and be like them because I don’t know how it is for everyone else but GB Boxing is in my blood now, it’s in my DNA, and I’m very honoured to be in the position I am.”
Clarke came into his semi-final with cuts over both eyes, the rest of headbutts in his disqualification win over Mourad Aliev, who had an appeal against the decision rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday.
“Over the last 48 hours, my Olympic journey has been different to everyone else’s, it’s been a roller coaster,” Clarke said.
“We had an appeal from the French team which threw me off a little bit and then I had cuts above both eyes. It was a bullseye for (Jalolov), I was trying to protect myself and probably overthinking it a bit too much.”
Jalolov opened up a fresh wound on Wednesday afternoon but was wobbled by Clarke in the second round, arguably the punch of the fight which led to a standing eight-count.
However, Jalolov’s sensational movement and precision punching put him up on four of the five judges’ cards after the first six minutes and, with the cut over Clarke’s eye growing steadily worse, the stoppage came midway through the third round.
“I was able to live my dream and compete in an Olympic semi-final which, for a small, fat kid from Burton, doesn’t happen very often,” Clarke added.
“I’m over the moon, I’m proud of myself and I can walk away from this Olympics with my head held high.”