IF there’s one thing most athletes would give their eye teeth for, it’s having the ability to be a big-time performer. 

To produce their very best when the stakes are at their highest. 

Whatever the specifics are that contribute to that quality – and no one is quite sure - Sam Hickey has them. 

And being a championship performer bodes well for Hickey’s next couple of months which could, potentially, be the biggest of his career so far. 

Hickey may only be 22 years old but already, he has established himself as one of Scotland’s most promising boxers. 

As a teenager, he picked up Commonwealth Youth Games bronze as well as European Junior Championship silver while earlier this year, he won European under-22 bronze. And, in the coming weeks, he is looking to add to that medal tally. 

This weekend, Hickey will begin his campaign at the European Boxing Championships, with the -75kgs fighter one of two Scots, alongside 2021 World Championships medallist, Reese Lynch, who are part of the 14-strong GB squad which is competing in Armenia over the coming week. 

And Hickey admits he is in no doubt as to what his target is. 

“I’m looking forward to the Europeans – getting another major tournament under my belt and hopefully coming back with another medal,” the Dundonian says. 

“At the under 22s, I was expecting to get a medal and I was unlucky not to get the decision in the semis so it was a good experience. And all the guys who I fought there will be here this week. 

“I want to medal in Armenia but really, every tournament I go to now, I’m looking for a medal. 

“I’ve won medals at juniors and youths so to do it as a senior as well would be a great achievement.” 

Hickey’s early days were spent on the football pitch as well as the boxing ring but with, he admits, something of a lack of footballing talent, he quickly realised boxing was the path for him. 

Scottish titles before he’d even hit his teenage years were an early indication of his potential but it was a trip to Russia alongside current national coach, Craig McEvoy, which Hickey believes was a formative point in his career. 

“I’ve been to Russia a lot of times but in 2018, I went to Sochi, just me and Craig,” he says. 

“It was before the World Youth Championships and it was a really good experience but it was crazy. 

“It was quite a turning point for me actually; it was a big learning curve and it gave me a lot of confidence. 

“It was a really tough camp – a lot of the spars were tougher than you get in competition. But it was a massively important point in my career.” 

Hickey was one of two Scots, alongside Lynch, who were invited to join the GB Boxing programme at the start of this year and that has been a significant change for the Lochee ABC fighter.  

Previously, juggling his training alongside his job as a personal trainer was far from easy and so while the weekly commute to GB Boxing’s headquarters in Sheffield is something of a trek, Hickey is in no doubt as to the benefits of being a full-time fighter. 

“The biggest thing being part of GB is the consistency of training rather than having to work it around my job,” he says.  

“The training is intense – being part of the Scotland set-up has set me up perfectly for GB, but I’ve come into GB and I feel like my fitness levels have shot up and I’ve gone up another level.  

“There’s loads of sparring partners and fighters from other countries come over but it’s the consistency – you’re doing the same thing week in, week out and that’s a massive benefit.” 

In the longer-term, Hickey’s target is the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris but his immediate focus, just weeks after these European Championships, are the Commonwealth Games. 

The team is still to be officially announced but Hickey is certain to be included and, having watched Josh Taylor and Charlie Flynn win gold at Glasgow 2014, he is in no doubt he wants to emulate the pair. 

“I do imagine myself winning the gold medal,” he says.  

“When I’m on my way down to Sheffield for GB training, I think about it, I visualise it and I write it down too. 

“It’s a huge target for me. I’ve ticked off a lot of my goals and the Commonwealth Games is another one for me. 

“Paris 2024 would be massive but I’ve always wanted to go to a Commonwealth Games and then from there, going to the Olympics would be amazing.  

“Over the last couple of years, I’ve really started to believe I can do well at these big tournaments.”