After both medalling for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics, British boxing’s new power couple Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall are setting their sights on conquering the professional game together.
Price, who won middleweight gold in Japan last summer, will make her professional debut live on Sky Sports on June 11 at Wembley Arena. Featherweight bronze medallist Artingstall, who has also signed a long-term promotion deal with BOXXER, will no doubt be in the vicinity as she awaits confirmation of a date for her first professional outing.
The pair, both 27, publicly confirmed their relationship after the Olympics as they revealed they had recently bought a house together, and have now explained how training and competing alongside each other has helped propel them to this point.
“It’s just like having a home comfort everywhere you go,” Artingstall told Sky Sports News. “If we’re ever having to travel away to a different country for a training camp or anywhere, she’s always by my side and I’m always by hers. So it’s always having that home comfort with you.
“I say you never feel out of your comfort zone, you do because the sessions are hard, but it’s always that little bit easier having her beside me pushing me on.”
Following confirmation of their long-term deals with BOXXER, it has been announced that Price and Artingstall will become the first professional boxers to sign training and management contracts with GB Boxing.
Under the terms of the deal, the duo, who were keen to remain under the guidance of performance director Rob McCracken and the GB Boxing coaches, will continue to train in Sheffield, alongside the next generation of Olympic aspirants.
Price says the experience of contributing to a record GB boxing medal haul in Tokyo was only heightened by competing alongside Artingstall.
“It was pretty special doing that with Karriss, my partner,” Price says. “We live together, we train together and to go to the Olympic Games on the biggest stage there is with your partner, that’s pretty special. It was great.
“Like she says, it’s like a home comfort. Boxing is a lonely sport, so to be there – we travel to Sheffield every week and even just having her in the car by the side of me – in training if we’re having a tough day, we kind of pick each other up.”
From international footballer to kickboxing world champion
While they have ended up on the same path, Price and Artingstall’s routes to professional boxing were extremely contrasting.
Price, raised by her grandparents in Wales, was set for sporting stardom from a young age. Her grandpa took her to play football at the age of eight, before her grandma took her to a kickboxing club soon afterwards.
“If it wasn’t for them then I wouldn’t have achieved anything in life really,” Price says of her grandparents.
“My grandad took me down to a little football club in the valley. I was the only girl at the time in the team with a bunch of boys. I was playing centre-half, I was bigger than most of the boys. Then my nan took me to kickboxing club as well just to let some energy off. I was like Tigger as a child, I was always just bouncing around. From there I just fell in love with sport.”
Both ventures proved successful. After being spotted by scouts from Cardiff City, Price would go on to represent Wales at senior international level. As for kickboxing, she would become a four-time world champion.
Not content, Price turned her attention to boxing, which is also going rather well.
“My nan always said reach for the moon and if you fall short you land on the stars,” says Price, who received an MBE after her Olympic triumph. “That’s something I’ve always stuck with and they were big believers in me having dreams and it just goes to show if you work hard enough you can achieve anything.”
Artingstall: Army discipline set me up for boxing
Artingstall’s route to the ring is a familiar one for the sport, which has offered salvation and discipline at a young age to many of its future champions.
“I got into boxing from just being a little rascal basically,” she says. “I was always into bother with the police and I got kicked out of four different schools and ended up in a non-mainstream school because of that.
“Every Friday we went down to the local boxing gym for an hour, but the coaches said they could see potential in me, so I went down there three times a week and just stuck with it.”
While pursuing her amateur boxing career, Artingstall joined the British army, and only in April ended her eight-year service as a gunner to focus solely on being a professional athlete.
“In the army you have to be disciplined, in boxing I believe you have to be disciplined,” she says. “So going through the army set me up nicely for the ring. They bounce off one and other.
“I solely left just so I could focus on my pro boxing career, even though they were the backbone of my career, they supported me massively.”
A seamless transition to the pro ranks?
Price, who will come down a weight division to start her pro career, is expecting a seamless transition.
“I’ve got a good boxing IQ,” Price says. “Very technical, very fast. I can dig a little bit and now I’m coming down from middleweight to welterweight, I’ll be boxing people my own size, not giants.
“I’ve always had pressure really because for a while now I’ve been going into tournaments seeded as No 1 and expected to win gold and expected to perform, so there’s nothing really new to me. I just cope with it, I’m very laid back. I’m just very excited. It’s great to be on a platform like Sky Sports, there’s no bigger platform, so I’m really excited.”
Artingstall is also confident of her amateur success translating at pro level, and admits the presence of world champions Savannah Marshall, Claressa Shields and Natasha Jonas in the BOXXER ranks were crucial elements in her decision.
“I’m powerful, explosive – when the time’s right,” Artingstall says. “I’m not just going to go out there and try to blow someone’s head off, I can box.
“To be looking up to people like Savannah, Claressa and Tasha, they’re the footsteps we want to follow in to become world champions ourselves, and hopefully be the next females to be taking over.”
Wherever their professional journeys take them, merely attempting to climb the mountain together is an extremely rare experience.
“It’s a once in a lifetime sort of a feeling that no-one else really gets to see,” Artingstall says. “Going to the top of the sport with their partner by their side.”