Lawrence has risen through the ranks to become a world-recognised force in Professional boxing.
By 2018 he held the Commonwealth cruiserweight title. In the following year he won the British and European titles in the same category. The World title followed in 2020. He’s known for a long reach and accurate jab, and his punching power is feared by opponents.
He’s also a man of words and is an author and rapper. As 2020 closed and rankings were published he was named in the top ten in the world by The Ring and BoxRec.
Lawrence stopped eating meat while still an amateur, and thought he’d give veganism a try after finding out about it from friends.
In 2018 after a high profile win he revealed he’s been meat free for a year and described his diet as ‘plant based’. He admitted eating non vegan chocolate.
By 2020 he was in line for a shot at the world title in the 90.7 kg (200 lb) cruiserweight division and the media noticed the vegan angle. “I switched because I have a few friends who are vegan,” Okolie explained. “They told me my energy levels would increase, so I tried it for one month. After that first month, I never looked back.”
Lawrence went on to beat the champion by sixth round knockout to take the title.
Eating vegan doesn’t seem to present a problem to Lawrence.
“I eat all the wonderful fruit and vegetables out there” he says. “Rice, grains, basically stuff that gives me energy to train but then it’s not as hard to process in my body.
“Before, I would balloon up in weight as soon as I had a fight but now it is easier to maintain.”
He’s also benefitted from the expansion of vegan options.
“To be honest, I’m fortunate where I live as my area has become a lot more vegan friendly”. He’s also found some great fruit stalls and says “people would be surprised how many delicious fruits are out there.”
He also makes sure he has carbs. “Instead of a blob of meat on my plate I will opt for a sweet potato instead.”
Being among the best in the world doesn’t come easy. Lawrence focusses on full body workouts rather than targeting muscle groups on a day. It includes deadlfts and squats, and plenty of conditioning – with progression.
“Training gets more and more difficult. I used to find it very hard when I first started, now I look back at what I used to do and laugh.
“Probably in a few years it will be the same and I will look back at this and think I had it easy. As time moves on, you are doing more rounds, longer runs, becoming stronger, faster and being able to sustain more damage.”
He tests his condition on an assault bike with intervals of 10 seconds with a 20 second rest, for four minutes. He’ll complete six rounds of this.
Among other things, Lawrence is noted as the man who turned his life around quickly. Going from obesity and working in McDonalds to competing at the Olympics in four years – then to professional boxing. He’s written a book about 40 life lessons called ‘Dare to Change Your Life’.
His plans are ongoing. They include unifying the titles and moving up to heavyweight.
“When they talk about British cruiserweights, I want my name up there with the best that this country’s had and the only way to do that is to win world titles and unify and do stuff people didn’t manage to do or defend my title lots of times.”
He’s certainly one of the most exciting sportsmen of the era and we’ll be watching his progress with interest.