LOVABLE journeyman Lewis Van Poetsch stole the show at the Southern Area Awards in London on Sunday November 24. Fresh from a four-round points loss – not an unfamiliar result for the 126-fight veteran – to Darren Tarr in Glasgow the night before, “Poochi” took to the stage with a dance and a giggle. “At last,” he said as he proudly clutched his award for Best Supporting Boxer, “I’ve got the decision.”
Van Poetsch – who was in attendance with his family and close friend and manager/trainer, Richard Farnan – can boast a record of 9-114-2 and is a credit to the sport. It’s rare if a weekend passes when he and Farnan are not spotted on social media, laughing and joking together as they travel to an away corner somewhere in the UK, where 29-year-old van Poetsch provides lessons in endurance and ring smarts to favoured prospects.
Also doing themselves proud were recently retired pair, Wadi Camacho and Danny Couzens, who warmly embraced as their March 2018 cruiserweight slugfest – won by Camacho via ninth-round stoppage – was named as the Southern Area Fight of the Year. “This is what boxing is about,” Couzens said when referring to the pair now being pals. Couzens, 10-12-2 (2), retired in March this year following a 10-round points loss to Daniel Mendes and is now an Inspector on the Southern Area. Couzens was also honoured, alongside 15 others, for his work as an inspector.
Camacho, meanwhile, was also on hand to present a youngster who has been battling serious illness with a touching The Real Champ Award. The boy became known by his preferred nickname in the Peacock Gym thanks to light-heavyweight contender, Anthony Yarde, who always refers to him as, ‘the real champ’.
The biggest cheer of the afternoon perhaps went to Martin Bowers, who won Trainer of the Year, as he spoke of his work at the famous Peacock Gym that he founded with his brother. Bowers’ most famous charge is heavyweight Daniel Dubois but his work behind the scenes at the gym – both for the sport and the local community – cannot be understated.
Promoter of the Year was the tireless and selfless Steve Goodwin, who continues to produce small hall shows of the highest quality in London while Richard Barber, the exuberant host, advised all in attendance to take a photo of the man named Young Boxer of the Year. “This man is a guaranteed star of the future,” Barber said as gifted Maidstone bantamweight Dennis McCann was invited to the stage to accept his award.
The afternoon was spread over several hours with a three-course lunch, raffle and auction. On hand providing table-to-table entertainment was a magician and a Rocky Balboa impersonator donning a black hat, fingerless gloves, leather jacket and both the uncanny facial tics and voice of the movie icon.
Two stalwarts were given Services to Boxing Awards. Whip Dave Evans and journalist Ken Sellek – who contributes to several local London newspapers and Boxing News – were suitably delighted to be honoured. John Camp and Len Butcher picked up Special Recognition awards while Les Potts and Kevin Fulthorpe – who run the British Boxing Board of Control’s trainers and seconds courses – were also given awards.
Other honourees at the keenly attended ceremony were Cecil Ross MBE (Phil Lungdren Award) and Hannah Rankin (Special Recognition). Charlie Edwards was not in attendance but the former WBC flyweight champion, who won his title during the season under consideration for these awards, was named as Fighter of the Year.
“I have had terrific response to the awards,” said Barber. As he should – it was a lovely afternoon that reminded all in attendance how lucky they are to be part of the British boxing community.