Boxing fans already know that undefeated cruiserweight Lawrence “The Sauce” Okolie is a dangerous-punching 6′ 5″ tall, 200-lb top contender.
But what Okolie (14-0, 11 KOs), from Hackney, London, UK, and North American-headquartered, plant-based marketplace Vejii, want the world to know is that if Okolie is victorious this Saturday (December 12, 2020) against Poland’s Nikodem Jezewski (19-0-1, 9 KOs) for the WBO International Championship, he will be just one victory away from becoming the world’s first full vegan to win a cruiserweight world championship and just the second to win any world championship in all of boxing history.
“I switched because I have a few friends who are vegan,” explains Okolie of his move to a plant-based diet. “They told me my energy levels would increase, so I tried it for one month. After that first month, I never looked back.”
Okolie, who once worked flipping burgers for $8 an hour at McDonald’s in London’s Victoria train station, cannot become boxing’s first vegan to win a belt. That distinction is reportedly owned by former WBC Middleweight World Champion Keith Holmes, but Okolie could become boxing’s only current vegan champion. Former heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings, a devout plant-based advocate, came close to winning a heavyweight championship in his two world-title challenges, but ultimately fell short.
Okolie was originally scheduled to fight for the vacant WBO World Championship this Saturday, but his opponent fell out due to COVID-19. Instead, he’s been tasked with getting past Jezewski in the 12-round co-featured bout to Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua’s title defense against Kubrat Pulev, this Saturday at Wembley Arena in London and live on streaming giant DAZN (1 pm ET) and Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.
“Training is going amazing,” he continued. “I’ve never eaten meat as a professional athlete, but I’ve done it both ways as an athlete and I prefer the plant-based approach. I would recommend this lifestyle to fighters who want to find increased energy levels and an easier time maintaining weight.”
Okolie’s cutting-edge approach to modern diet and training has caught the eye of Vejii CEO Kory Zelickson, who is currently celebrating the launch of his groundbreaking multi-vendor online marketplace ShopVejii.com, which connects consumers to the world’s largest selection of niche and mainstream vegan and plant-based products.
“Vejii is committed to supporting vegan athletes like Lawrence Okolie, who show the world you don’t need to eat meat to be competitive at a world-class level,” said Zelickson. “We hope the younger generation that looks up to these athletes sees their example and takes steps to try and incorporate more plant-based foods into their own diets. Vejii is here to help with that.”
The 27-year-old Okolie, who won a gold medal at Europe’s 2016 Olympic Qualification Tournament to earn his place on Team Great Britain at the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016, says he has serous work left to do, but he’s hoping to make history for his personal convictions.
No matter what ultimately happens, Lawrence Okolie, the man and his career, are both a long way from flipping any more burgers. “It’ll be amazing to win a world championship,” he said. “I would enjoy becoming a history-making vegan. It’ll be epic and hopefully convince people to go down the same route. We will get to work on Saturday.”
Vejii believes that by making the vegan lifestyle more accessible to all, they can have a positive impact on the planet and its inhabitants. Plant-based alternatives have become increasingly popular and competitive with traditional animal-based products like meats, eggs, and dairy. Grocery sales of plant-based foods have grown 29% in the past two years to $5 billion in the US alone and $74.2 billion globally with a 40% increase in the number of digital shoppers, currently at 2.05 billion, in the last six years.