Returning from the Beijing Olympics a gold medal bearing hero, boxer James DeGale must now face another kind of battle - that within himself over whether to stick it out with Team GB for London 2012 and defend his title in his hometown or to capitulate to the admittedly attractive and lucrative professional career that could instantly make him a millionaire and an even bigger celebrity.
Amir Khan barely lasted a year after his silver medal win in Athens 2004. After pledging to stay amateur until he was 22 and go for gold in Beijing, he sealed a professional deal with promoter Frank Warren by the time he was 18 despite efforts by UK Sport and the Amateur Boxing Association to thrust him up the Lottery funding stakes and encourage wholesome sponsorship deals.
DeGale has come back to London full of Olympic spirit but even he admits, a million quid just to turn pro would be tough to turn down. Especially when compared with even top tier UK Sport Lottery funding, which currently tops out around £25k a year for elite medal winners, plus whatever you can get from those sponsorship offers (which would obviously be so much more glamorous, as a pro). Warren reckons £75k all in. Peanuts compared to pro income.
But is it all about money? Boris and Brown are keen on boxing playing a role in keeping kids out of trouble so there's clearly a high profile ambassadorial role for DeGale, who at 22 and with his very own London swagger and cool, is perfect material to be inspiring the kids with his fitness, discipline and competitive spirit but with the gold medal already in the bag and 2012 a whole 4 years away, we're wondering if there really is enough allure in UK amateur sport to keep him.
Image courtesy of the Amateur Boxing Association