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WELSH world boxing champion Lauren Price has revealed the guilty musical secret which is soundtracking her quest to claim a gold medal at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Price, who grew up in Caerphilly and has won four world kick-boxing titles as well as four full international football caps for Wales, makes for one of the more unlikely fans of the Irish boy-band Westlife.
Yet such is the extent of the 25-year-old’s devotion — she even credits the band with a form of divine intervention — that Price views any attendant fame from success in Tokyo as a chance to get closer to her lifelong heroes.
Price said: “I’m a massive Westlife fan. I’ve seen them six times — first when I was six or seven, and again since they’ve reformed recently.
“People say: ‘Oh my God, you’re a boxer and you’re into Westlife.’ But I can’t get enough of them.
“My favourite song is Flying Without Wings. When I was 17 I wrote my car off. It flipped and as I was lying there that song was playing on the radio, and I got out without being injured.
“I’m not really into the fame thing but obviously when you win bigger titles you get to meet other top sports stars. If winning in Tokyo meant I got to meet Westlife, I think I’d just be totally star-struck.”
For someone who has spent most of her life with a steely-eyed devotion to different fighting arts — she also spent time in the Great Britain taekwondo academy — Price is impressively forthcoming about her weaknesses away from the ring.
“I don’t think I could ever go into the jungle, because I’m terrified of rats,” said Price, alluding to other celebrity possibilities.
“And I can’t ice-skate. I went to Winter Wonderland in Cardiff once, and I did my hamstring, so I’ve never been back.”
When the gloves are on, however, Price’s opponents are increasingly finding that the middleweight is far less likely to exhibit any frailties.
In 2019, Price followed her Commonwealth Games gold by clinching the European title in Minsk, before her controversial world title win when an initial defeat to the Netherland’s Nouchka Fontijn was overturned on appeal.
Cue plenty of social-media abuse from Fontijn fans, all of which served to cement Price’s belief that she has announced herself on the world stage at just the right time to fulfil her Olympic ambitions in Tokyo.
“It’s like what happened with Anthony Joshua — when you’re doing well, people hate it, but I don’t really take any notice,” added Price. “I’m actually a really laid-back person.
“Sure, when I played centre-half I’d go in with the slide-tackles when I needed to, but I don’t go into the ring planning to knock someone out. I see it more as a tactical sport.
“I knew I won the fight [against Fontijn]. It would have been nice to have had my arm raised in the moment, but at the end of the day I added another major title, and I’ve just got one more to get.”
First Price must qualify for Tokyo, and her quest has been bolstered by this week’s news that the first qualifying tournament will be held in London over 10 days in March.
That encouraging prospect quickly leads Price back into more musing over the celebrity options that might come her way if everything goes to plan in Japan.
“I’d give the Dancing [On Ice] a go, or I’d go on Celebrity X Factor. I’d do Tina Turner Simply the Best. I’ve always sung it at karaoke. I’ve got video of me doing it, but I haven’t been brave enough to put it up on Instagram yet.”
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