Hooks pair continue club’s proud run of national titles
- Credit: Archant
Hooks ABC have now produced nine national champions in just six years after Simon ‘Tidy’ O’Donnell and Patrice Mughalzai triumphed at the England Boxing Schools finals in Sheffield.
The pair, aged 12 and 13 respectively, both won their finals to add their names to the Hooks honours board – and trainer Steve Newland, who
established the Park Royal club in 2009, was in jubilant mood.
He told the Times: “It’s a fantastic day for us, a huge achievement. We’ve now had nine national champions, nine finalists, two Great Britain champions and a GB silver medallist!
“When we started, we said we wanted a national champion each year and this win has really stated that we’re a club to be reckoned with.”
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O’Donnell – a cousin of former Commonwealth welterweight champion John O’Donnell, from Ladbroke Grove – was first into the ring in Sheffield, taking on Blaine Lambert (Leeds) at Under-35.5kg.
In a hard-fought contest, the Hooks boy landed the better shots and finished strongly to secure victory on points, with all three judges scoring 30-27 in his favour.
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Mughalzai, who was awarded a bursary by London ABA partners Powerday earlier this year, was up against Anthony Riley from Lancashire-based FitBox Club.
Riley took a record of five wins from six into the Under-50kg contest, with Mughalzai undefeated in 10 – but the Hooks boxer initially failed to take control and was penalised for holding in the second round.
However, Mughalzai upped the pace for the remainder of the contest and, after a tense delay, he was eventually declared the winner on a split decision.
“Tidy was up against it, but he boxed out of his skin and he caught Blaine with some great shots,” added Newland. “In the last round Tidy got it together, he outboxed him and proved his point.
“Patrice was nervous and it wasn’t his best performance. Everyone was saying how good he was going into the fight and I think it got to him a little.
“I told Patrice to hold strong. It was scrappy for a final, and Patrice got penalised by the ref, which we thought would hurt his chances.
“But in the last round Patrice gave it everything and when it came to the scores one judge gave it 29-28 to Patrice, the next was 29-28 to Riley, and the final judge scored 29-29.
“As it finished level it was an agonising wait while they decided, but Patrice boxed brilliantly throughout.
“He deserved the win and really battled to come through it.”
Newland believes the young duo will also have benefited from their visit to Sheffield in terms of seeing the facilities used by amateur stars both past and present.
Among the fighters to have trained at the headquarters of English amateur boxing is James DeGale MBE – Newland’s former charge and the recently-crowned IBF world super-middleweight champion.
“He’s a great role model for the boys – he’s shown such drive,” said Newland.
“It’s great for the kids to see where the likes of ‘Chunky’ trained in Sheffield and see all the medals.
“There’s no doubt that they can both go on to reach huge heights as well.”