What started as a request to BFBS Live Events (formerly CSE) to source a celebrity appearance for the inaugural Akrotiri Awards ended up with professional wrestler Anthony Ogogo delivering inspiration and morale as far as possible.
The result was a five-day whirl-wind tour of Cyprus in November 2019, funded by the BFBS Live Events Beneficiary Fund, with appearances by Olympic Medallist and ex Professional Boxer, turned Professional Wrestler, Anthony Ogogo at:
- two awards nights
- two school visits
- two boxing club visits
- eight incredibly motivating and inspiring talks given to the troops and their families
Anthony began his time at British Forces Cyprus with a visit to BFBS Radio Cyprus and a morning interview with presenter Akylah Rodriguez where Anthony let it be known that he actually forewent his dream of joining the British Army to chase his Olympic Boxing aspirations. He said:
“I wanted to be in the Army when I was younger, but I was in the Great British Boxing Team at the time and, at the time, they weren’t taking any military boxers, so it wasn’t really an option for me."
The former professional boxer visited St Johns School at Episkopi where Anthony was invited to speak with students and assist in running a PE class showing the kids how to hit the pads and a few different combinations. All the while making time to take some photos with the students (as well as selfies with the teachers) and signing some autographs. Frank Marsden, the Head of Physical Education, said:
“What an absolute top bloke. Inspirational.
"He worked hard at school, worked hard in boxing. Proper legend. Thank you, Anthony.”
84 Squadron gave Anthony a tour of the coastline by air, before his visit to Episkopi, for the 2 Mercian Sports Awards.
This event celebrated the battalion’s sportsmen and women and all their achievements, with a presentation of the Battalion’s Colours as well as awards going to best team, coach and individual.
After giving a motivational speech about overcoming adversity through sport, Anthony was presented with the Battalion’s Colours as well as a trophy of their Cap Badge.
Anthony also spent time at various locations around RAF Akrotiri, starting with Akrotiri School where the children had been learning about health, fitness and Anthony’s boxing career in order to prepare questions for him.
He presented awards to outstanding students in their weekly certificate presentation, took a PE session with three different classes and spent time taking photos with the kids, teachers and parents as well as signing copious autographs.
Akrotiri has an excellent boxing facility so it was only fitting that Anthony went to see the boxing team there. After sharing some stories of his ups and downs, both in and out of the squared circle, Anthony put some of the younger members of the boxing team through their paces.
Anthony was the guest of honour at the Akrotiri Awards Night. A black-tie evening to recognise civilians, teachers, contractors, dependants and service personnel of all ranks who make the Akrotiri community what it is. He spoke about his respect and admiration for the Forces community saying:
“People look up to me because I’m an Olympian … but I look up to you guys, and there’s millions of people back home that look up to you guys.”
The night was an amazing showing of the strength of community within Akrotiri and how well the Forces and civilian populations work together. Flight Sergeant Phil Blake, organiser of the inaugural Akrotiri Awards Night said:
“The whole trip was a great morale boost to both military and civilian personnel across the island.”
Finally, Anthony travelled north to the Cypriot capital of Nicosia. There, he spent time with 27 Regiment Royal Logistics Corps deployed on Op Tosca, where he learned about their United Nations peacekeeping mission and the work the British Forces are doing, including patrols of the Buffer Zone which splits the island in two, and why the zone was created.
Anthony then gave a speech about mental strength and resiliency, something he knows a great deal about given his incredible journey to Olympic Bronze at London 2012. Lieutenant Colonel Daren Fisher said:
“Anthony’s motivational speech on resilience was superb.
"Our boxing team were in their element when he spent 90 minutes training with them in the Cyprus sun, something even they weren’t expecting.”
After a fantastic tour of Cyprus and the Forces community based there, Anthony said:
“It’s been absolutely amazing trip, from talking to the kids at both St Johns and AKI Primary, to doing the two awards nights with Craig Williams at 2 Mercian and Phil Blake at the AKI Awards.
"I’ve had an amazing trip and huge thank you to BFBS for the chance to come out here and I can’t wait to come back again.”
Jacob Collins, Event Manager for the tour said:
“Whether talking to the children at the schools, or to a Forces audience, Anthony’s story is a true inspiration and I think everyone that got the chance to meet him came away motivated to be the best they can be.”
NEED HELP WITH AN EVENT OR ENTERTAINMENT?
As a not-for-profit organisation, any surplus we make from our commercial projects goes directly into our Beneficiary Fund, which aims to improve morale and welfare of British Armed Forces personnel and their families through a variety of event and entertainment solutions.
If you are in the military or are part of the wider military community and have a welfare requirement contact us for more information about the BFBS Beneficiary Fund and/or an application form.