As the Olympic Games continue in Tokyo, the athletes’ rigorous training and dedication to their respective sports is evident—but what’s less clear is exactly how much an Olympian makes while competing. In a new video on his YouTube channel, former professional boxer Steve Jeffries, who won a bronze medal at Beijing 2008, breaks down exactly what his income looked like as an Olympian, from his time spent training and qualifying for the Games, to competing and making it to the podium.
He explains that boxing was considered an amateur sport at the Olympics for a long time, and only began to get funding in the UK from 2000 onwards, after British heavyweight Audley Harrison won a gold medal in Sydney. Then money began to be invested in training camps, where young fighters would be given an allowance.
“We didn’t earn that much money until we qualified for the Olympics,” says Jeffries. “Leading up to it, we might get a cheque of £500 ($694) every three months, until you get onto the development program, that’s when they really see the potential in you qualifying for the Olympic Games.”
From that point on, the cheques become monthly, and the amount increases as fighters start to improve. “You had to be the number one or two fighter to get any sort of funding at all,” he says, explaining that he and his peers stepped up their training two years prior to the qualifiers and were essentially at the training camp “full-time.” This came with a slight increase in income; around £790 ($1,097) per month, in addition to all travel, accommodation, food, medical and training expenses. Jeffries recalls he also had two part-time jobs at this time.
Once Jeffries qualified for the Olympics, that stipend went up to £2,000 ($2,780) per month, plus expenses, with additional incentives promised in the event that he won a medal: winning gold would earn a fighter £20,000 and silver would be £10,000. A bronze medal, which Jeffries ended up winning, was worth £5,000, and he used that to take his teammates on vacation to Ibiza after the Games.
“It was money well spent,” he says.
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