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AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER MCGRAIL- LIVERPOOL’S OLYMPIAN BOXER

BOXER Peter McGrail, who fights out of the Everton Red Triangle boxing club — and represents Team GB Boxing — has been selected for the European qualifiers ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

Now 23, Liverpool’s talented prospect started to make waves on the amateur circuit when he won bronze medals in both the Youth Olympic Games and the World Youth Championships in 2014.

Then, in 2017, he become European champion, claimed a bronze medal in the World Championships and went on to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Peter also competed at the European Championships 2019 and brought home another bronze medal.

Scottie Press sat down with Britain’s boxing hopeful at his gym on Albion Street — which has been a second home to Peter ever since he first stepped through the doors at the age of 10.

“I just came down for a bit of fun,” he recalls. “One of my friends, Aaron Rooney, asked a few of us to come down and I ended up good at it. I’ve stuck at it ever since. And here I am now, 13 years later.”

After some eyecatching performances, he was picked up by Team GB Boxing in 2015, whose HQ is at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

“I’ve been travelling to and from Sheffield most weeks,” says Peter. “I box full time, it’s what I do. It’s how I’ll make my money and build a life.

“My dad and grandad both boxed, so it’s in the family”

Originally a bantamweight (56 Kilos) Peter has now changed to featherweight “I get an extra kilogram now,” he explains, and he reckons that is “perfect” for him. “I know it doesn’t sound like much, but the weight change has helped me a lot,” he says.

“Ever since the Olympics was in London in 2012 — and I’ve seen the likes of Tom Stalker, who was from Liverpool, plus Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell — it made me want to go, too. When Rio 2016 was on, I went out there to help the British lads train and spar with them.

“After being there and feeling the atmosphere, it felt different from any other boxing show I’d ever been at. So ever since Rio, I’ve known how much I want to be going to Tokyo.”

Peter still faces the challenge of the European championships in London to officially get his place on the Olympic team. “I need to get to the last eight of the European qualifiers,” he explains. ”In the last ones I’ve won them, so I will definitely be qualifying. But just to be selected to go to the qualifiers is great.

“I always knew I was going to be going, but now it’s set in stone I’m just looking forward to it and getting on the plane to Tokyo.

“I’ve never been to Tokyo. I’ve been around the world, boxing for GB. I’ve been to loads of countries. Tokyo will be another one on the list and I’m looking forward to it.”

Peter is now an experienced amateur on the international stage, with an impressive 43 bouts under his belt, and he has learned not to waste energy  worrying about upcoming opponents. “I just like to focus on myself and don’t worry about anyone else,” he says. “I make sure I’m ready and at 100 per cent.

“My normal week is Monday to Thursday in Sheffield, then I’ll come into Everton Red Triangle on a Friday and sometimes a Monday morning.

“We spar two to three times a week, we run about four times a week, we do strength and conditioning twice a week — and we’ll have one full rest day to let the body recover.

“I’m also quite strict about my diet now, just trying to get as many vegetables as I can and just not eating too much crap to be honest”

Sticking to all that rigorous training and diet to compete at the top level can be tough. But Peter relishes his time boxing for Team GB, saying: “I’ve had the chance to travel around the world and I’ve gained a super amount of experience. I’ve met some great people and met some friends for life.

“When you go away you’re basically spending 24/7 with the people you’re with. You’re either away at training camps or you’re in Sheffield, so you make great memories with great people. It’s just a brilliant experience and it’s been a big part of my life.”

Most of the Olympics squad have been training together for years and Peter has confidence in the team as a whole. “The lads are flying,” he says. “In the past four years, since the last Olympics, we’ve been getting medals in the major tournaments, we’ve been breaking records — it’s a young, hungry squad and we’re definitely aiming for medals.”

The Liverpool boxing prodigy is clear about what it takes to win gold.

“Hard work and dedication,” he says. “That means listening to my coaches, here with my coach Paul Stevenson and my trainers up in Sheffield, and to be dedicated both in and out the ring.

“That’s the plan to bring a gold medal home.”

Reflecting on his years at Everton Red Triangle under coach Paul Stevenson, Peter says: “It’s been brilliant being in here, I joined this gym when I was 10 and I’m 23 now, so it’s been more than half my life that I’ve been here.

“Paul is like my other parent, and his knowledge of the sport is amazing. Every day I’m in here with him I’m learning, and I’m sure it’s going to be like that for the next 10-to-15 years.

So what are Peter’s plans after Tokyo 2020?

“I’ll be turning professional straight away, with Everton Red Triangle being my gym,” he says. “I’m looking forward to turning pro and boxing in the likes of the M&S Bank arena on big pro shows — and everyone can come down to watch me.”