Lambe to stay amateur as he chases Olympic dream
Andre Lambe says he will delay turning professional so he can realise his ambition of boxing at the Olympic Games.
The welterweight has been advised to hold off on plans to join the paid ranks and instead hone his skills at top amateur competitions such as the Commonwealth Games, as he bids to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
At just 22, Lambe has time on his side and believes three years of elite amateur experience will stand him in good stead for when he eventually goes professional by exposing him to different fighting styles.
“I thought the Olympics was out of reach, as I will be 25 by that time,” Lambe said. “But there are a lot of champions out there who waited to turn pro, plus I'm a small guy, so I've got time to grow in the sport.
“I want to be able to experience different kinds of fighters before I turn professional because every country has different styles. I know I have the skill set to do what I need to do at these competitions and hopefully put Bermuda back on the map in boxing.”
Boxing remains Bermuda's only Olympic medal, with fellow southpaw Clarence Hill winning bronze in the heavyweight division at the Montreal Games in 1976.
Lambe feels he has the pedigree to emulate Hill, Roy Johnson, Robert Burgess and Quinn Paynter and become the island's fifth Olympic pugilist.
“There are not too many people on this island who have the talent that I have in boxing and I think I should put it to good use by representing my country,” Lambe said.
“The only medal Bermuda has won at the Olympics is in boxing and I don't know when the next person will come along who has the ability [to represent Bermuda in boxing].
Although professional boxers are now permitted at the Olympics — three qualified to fight in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, all of whom were over the age of 30 — Lambe must stay amateur to fight in a sequence of prestigious events. In April the Commonwealth Games are in Gold Coast, Australia, followed by the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, in July and the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, in 2019.
“The Commonwealth Games would show me what I need to do and what type of competition I would be up against [at the Olympics],” Lambe said. “It would be an important competition for me.”
Lambe also revealed an unlikely inspiration behind his Olympic aspirations.
“I've been inspired by Flora Duffy as she's out there doing her thing and representing Bermuda on the big stage,” Lambe said. “She's shown that despite coming from a small island we can compete at the highest level.
“Most of my training is done here at Rego's Boxing Gym [in Warwick]. Hopefully I can also show people not to let the size of your country or what you have hold you back.”
Lambe has six wins from nine bouts but believes his apparent lack of experience is misleading, having spent the past five years training alongside Bermudian professional Nikki Bascome.
The pair are both preparing at Kissimmee Boxing Gym in Orlando, Florida, for their bouts on the “Undefeated” fight card at the Fairmont Southampton next weekend.
Lambe will meet Jorge Guedes, of Portugal, whose has a record of six wins, one loss and one draw.
“My experience is definitely more than it says on paper,” Lambe said. “But I'm still learning and I've been in against some pretty extravagant styles in the gym. I've been sparring with Puerto Rican amateur Armani Almestica [who won the Junior Olympic Tournament in Florida in April]. We bring out the best in each other.”