Boxer to be made unofficial mayor of Wolverhampton as city celebrates silver

Ben Whittaker has been offered ‘a day with the mayoral chains' after joking that he wanted to become the city's civic leader.

Boxer Ben Whittaker will get the chance to become the unofficial mayor of Wolverhampton after winning Olympic silver, the city’s mayor has pledged.

Greg Brackenridge said Whittaker will receive a hero’s welcome on his return to the West Midlands – and had “earned a day with the mayoral chains”.

Mr Brackenridge said he had been inundated with phone calls since Whittaker joked after his quarter-final fight that he wanted to “become the mayor of Wolverhampton” if he won gold.

The Mayor of Wolverhampton, Greg Brackenridge, and the owner of Firewalker boxing club, Kirkwood Walker
The Mayor of Wolverhampton, Greg Brackenridge, and the owner of Firewalker boxing club, Kirkwood Walker, pose in the ring as they celebrate the silver medal won by Ben Whittaker (Phil Barnett/PA)

Whittaker won silver in Tokyo after losing a split decision to Cuba’s Arlen Lopez in the men’s light-heavyweight category.

A strong start from the Cuban left Whittaker with a mountain to climb and while he edged the final round of the three-round contest, Lopez won gold after getting the nod from four of the five judges.

After watching the fight at his home, Mr Brackenridge admitted it was “bittersweet” to see 24-year-old Whittaker win silver.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Day Twelve
Ben Whittaker and Cuba’s Arlen Lopez on the podium after the Olympic final bout (Mike Egerton/PA)

He added: “There is disappointment of course because you always want to win, but I think he has done us all very, very proud.

“He’s really put us on the map – he’s managed to win a silver and we are really proud of him.

“My phone has not stopped ringing since Ben made his comment a few days ago.”

Mr Brackenridge, who has offered to let Whittaker attend an official function and don the mayoral chains on his return to Wolverhampton, said: “He’s going to get a hero’s welcome. Of course we are going to be doing that.

“I think he has earned a day with the mayoral chains.”

Wolverhampton’s Firewalker boxing club said in a statement that everyone there was proud of what Whittaker had achieved in Tokyo.

The statement, posted on the club’s Facebook page, said: “He has shown the world that a young boy from Darlaston can not only compete on the world stage but also come home with an Olympic silver medal.

“Huge respect to everyone who has been a part of his journey.”

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