Team Scotland open their Delhi Commonwealth Games campaign on Monday keen to repeat the outstanding success of Melbourne four years ago. But for the boxers in the team, the pressure to maintain a winning run stretches back much further – to the first Games in Hamilton in 1930.
Remarkably, Scotland’s boxers have won a medal in each and every Games since then – that’s 57 medals in total, fourteen of them gold. In Melbourne the record was maintained by Kenny Anderson, who, with his pre-fight ritual of watching Braveheart and listening to motivational speeches, became one of the standout personalities of the Games en route to winning light heavyweight gold.
In Delhi the seven-strong boxing team – who will be subject to the weigh-in on Monday, before the competition gets underway on Tuesday – are confident that they can emulate their predecessors.
“Scotland does have an unbelievable record in the boxing,” said super heavyweight Ross Henderson as he looked ahead to his campaign. “But it doesn’t put pressure on us, it gives us confidence,” he added. “Our governing body is right behind us, we have great support from the team here, and we’re really confident, all of us.
“I’ve trained really hard for this – we all have. And it’s all about a gold medal – I’m here for a gold medal,” continued the 6ft 6ins boxer, who is, by a considerable margin, the tallest member of Team Scotland. (Discus thrower Angus McInroy is next, at 194cm to Henderson’s 198.)
Henderson says that his gold-or-nothing approach runs through the full squad. “That’s the attitude we all have,” he said. “We’ve got a really strong team here – Aston Brown, Iain Butcher, Joe Ham, Callum Johnson, Stephen Simmons and Josh Taylor – we’ve got a good bond between us, and we’re all here to try our best to win gold medals.”
It is Henderson’s second visit to Delhi this year, after he took part in the Commonwealth Boxing Championships in March, winning a bronze medal. “That gave us a taste of what it would be like to compete here,” he said. “We were in the same arena as we’ll use for the Games, which definitely helps.
“We train so hard that we couldn’t see much of the city – we weren’t here as tourists,” Henderson continued. “Now we’re resting, but still training twice a day, morning and night.
“I just can’t wait to get in that ring to represent my country and try to win that gold medal, and I’m very confident that if I’m at my best, it’s possible,” he added. “I’m not someone who gets on a computer and goes looking up the history of their past fights. I concentrate on myself; as long as I’m boxing the way I know I can box, I’m happy.”