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The inspirational stories of the Development championships

Development championships
Andy Chubb/England Boxing
Featuring a boxer who overcame homelessness to become a champion, a man who found asylum in this country, Matt Bozeat recounts the inspiring stories that unfolded at the England Boxing Development championships finals

The Development Championships reached its conclusion at the Spiceball Centre with 76 bouts spread over two days from October 26-27. The best story to come from the championship was that of Rosanna Brunwin, a 28 year old from Total Boxer in North London. Boxing saved Brunwin from drug abuse and homelessness and in her sixth bout, she was  crowned a champion after unanimously outpointing Charley Carters (Hook and Jab) in the Class A final at 64kgs. Brunwin won the opening round with her jab and when Carters took the fight to her at the start of the second, Brunwin stood her ground and got the better of the exchanges. Both let their hands go in the last and though Carters had her successes, Brunwin usually had the final word.

Othman Said was another with an inspiring story, but for the 20 year old welterweight from South Wye Police ABC, there was to be no happy ending after his Class A final against Precieux Noka (Croydon). Said fled Libya after being shot and stabbed in an attack that left his father dead and made his way across Europe. For months, Said slept rough before his luck changed and he was able to creep onto a bus from Paris to London unnoticed by the driver. Said sought asylum and was relocated to Hereford where he took up boxing under coach Vince McNally. He won six bouts to reach the final where he lost a desperately close 3-2 split. Noka pressed, Said moved and a public warning for Said in the second may have been decisive. For Noka, it was a 13th straight win.

One of Saturday’s best bouts was in Class B at 60kgs where all-action Josh Hargreaves (Purge) [pictured] beat Jordan Phelps (Army) on a split to make it back-to-back Development titles. From the outset, Hargreaves, known in his gym as ‘Baby Canelo,’ looked to burrow his way inside and hook. Twice in the opening round Hargreaves was told off for shots that strayed low and when he got through with body shots in the second, Phelps felt it and held. Later in the round, Hargreaves knocked Phelps onto his heels with a left hook and he punched the air at the bell, feeling the job was almost done. Phelps rallied and the third round was hard for both boxers. Hargreaves took a few right uppercuts and came back with left hooks.

The five judges were in agreement after the Class B flyweight final between Ibrahim Shakil and Chorley Nolan (Army). Nineteen-year-old Shakil, who hasn’t been too active since reaching a Schools final in 2014, never let Nolan into the fight and became the 22nd national champion from Eastside ABC in Birmingham.

Final bout in Ring A on Sunday was a barnstormer. Moulscombe southpaw Harvey Dykes (Moulscombe) and Ike Ogbo (Border City) fought their hearts out in the Class B super-heavyweight final. The better schooled Dykes was a unanimous points winner, but though he was outboxed and ate some solid counters, Ogbo was never discouraged, never stopped swinging.

In a good bout in Class A at 64kgs, Jack Freeman (Army) survived a cut and count to outpoint Innocent Mayo (2nd City). The taller Freeman threw a torrent of punches at Mayo in the opening round to keep him at bay and though he appeared to win the session, Freeman picked up a cut on his left eyebrow. In the second, Mayo slipped more punches, forced more exchanges and connected with a clean right hand late in the round that convinced the referee to hand Freeman a count. Freeman got his feet moving more in the last and did a good job of boxing around the tiring Mayo – until the dying seconds. The action was stopped for the doctor to inspect Freeman’s eye with around 30 seconds left and on the bout’s resumption, the fighters stood and traded furiously until the final bell, bringing appreciative applause from the crowd.

At heavyweight in Class A, the more textbook Lewis Oakford (High Wycombe) outpointed Marvin Tomlinson (Jimmy Egan’s) on a 3-2 split. The slippery Tomlinson did a good job of keeping Oakford guessing what he was going to do next in a quiet opener before Oakford started to take more chances. He got his jab working and when he stepped in behind his punches, Oakford had Tomlinson looking disorganised and he took a count. The bearded Oakford probably just edged a back and forth final session.

Up at super-heavyweight in Class A, Daniel James (Bakehouse) was crowned champion with a split points win over Peter Dobos (Moulscombe) after one of Sunday’s best bouts.

For two rounds, James was on Dobos’ chest, churning out punches to body and head. James took a right hand or two – and ignored them. He just kept punching. The final round was closer. James had put so much into the opening two sessions that his legs were heavy and his hands dropped, giving Dobos more openings. Dobos landed some heavy punches, but every time he connected, James found a response and was a deserved winner.

Next in Ring B on Sunday was the female Class B final at 57kgs and the polished Jessica Barry (Christ The King) was too good for Coleen Roach (Haringey), winning unanimously to make it back-to-back Development titles and extend her unbeaten record.

Clubmate Amir Abubaker missed out on bringing another national title to the Coventry gym, losing unanimously to Idvino Balde (Miguels) in the Class B final at 75kgs.

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