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The 129th England Boxing Elite National Championships 2016
by Michael O'Neill
May 6, 2016
Photo: Lisa Whiteside
Copyrighted: Boxing England

(MAY 6)  The 129th England Boxing Elite National Championships 2016 saw Lisa Whiteside become a five-time national champion and three other boxers become two-time winners last weekend.
76 men and 39 women competed at the England Boxing Elite National Championships 2016 at the Echo Arena Liverpool, 29 April – 1 May 2016.

It is the biggest ever field for the National Finals and was only the second time in the event’s history that the men and women’s finals were held as part of the same tournament.

The competition featured six reigning champions and seven members of GB Boxing’s elite Podium squad.

The defending champions included two men, Sunny Edwards (light-flyweight) and Calum French (2015 bantamweight champion competing at lightweight in 2016), and four women, Tanya Dady (light-flyweight), Lisa Whiteside (flyweight), Cherrelle Brown (light-welterweight) and Natasha Gale (middleweight).

Reigning women’s flyweight champion and 2014 World Championship silver medallist, Lisa Whiteside, said on Friday: 'The National Finals weekend is always very special. Being part of the GB Boxing squad, I usually compete abroad so this is one of the few times when my family and friends get to watch me so I am really looking forward to it and hoping to bring quite a few supporters. It will be great to be back in Liverpool and I am looking forward to defending my title.'

Other members of GB Boxing’s Podium squad joining Whiteside (herself now a five time champion) in the competition included fellow 2014 World Championship silver medallist, Sandy Ryan and Sheffield’s Natasha Gale.

Whiteside said: “A lot of people came to watch me today, so I was a lot more nervous than usual. I knew I was the favourite so there was a bit of pressure but I relaxed once I got in the ring and it was great to get the win. Becoming a five-time champion is a fantastic feeling and something I can very proud of.”

This year, we saw a familiar figure in a different role as GB Podium boxer and European medallist, Stacey Copeland has been ‘side-lined’ for some months now following an injury, later complicated surgery and subsequently problems during recuperation.
Stacey though is one of those who even in the darkest hours sees a bright side to life and here in Liverpool’s Echo Arena she acted as interviewer of winners – and losers – in these championships.
To be honest her knowledge of the sport as a champion herself, her club coaching experiences, her friendship with the athletes and her overall professional performance behind the microphone was a pleasure to behold.

I’m sure that if there are any media organisations looking for an expert for the forthcoming Women’s Worlds in Astana and/or for the Rio Olympics then they would be well advised to ‘sign up’ Stacey before a competitor does. Any country in the English speaking world would greatly benefit from her knowledge and expertise.

So instead of just reading my take on what were the highlights of the 2016 championships here’s this EXCLUSIVE report filed for WBAN by British champion and European medallist Stacey Copeland.
“The decision to include GB podium boxers at the quarter final stages of the national championships has certainly raised the level of competition and added to the occasion. GB boxers Lisa Whiteside, Sandy Ryan, and Natasha Gale were entered this year at their respective 51kg, 60kg and 75kg weight categories. In the flyweight division, Whiteside received a bye through to the final where she faced Jade Ashmore and won unanimously in convincing style. At lightweight, Sandy Ryan boxed in the semis to earn her place in the final against Louise Orton where she too won in style with long accurate shots. Natasha Gale at middleweight also had a bye and faced Nikoletta Paksi in the final whom she beat by unanimous decision.

The most intriguing women’s bouts however were contested between England boxers fighting for the same spot. At 48kg a very competitive fight took place between Demi Jade-Rezstan and Tanya Dady. Despite Tanya being the number one seed and having beaten Rezstan before, Demi-Jade showed how much she has improved and rose to the occasion.

At times the fight resembled a wrestling match as neither boxer was prepared to give up any ground and both ended up on the canvas on a few occasions leading to a point being deducted for each. Eventually though it was Rezstan’s backhands from her southpaw stance which proved the difference and she took the decision to win her first senior national title.

In another intense affair two England boxers also fought for the 64kg title, Paige Murney and Cherrelle Brown both displayed technically sound skills as Murney boxed on the front foot with Brown using quick footwork to move in and out of range and pick Murney off as she came in. In the end Brown’s movement and accuracy proved superior and her flair and style made her a crowd favourite during the course of the weekend’s action”.

It was good to see Sandy Ryan in such good form after the news she had received but a few days earlier when the GB selectors broke the news that she would not be their representative in the forthcoming Olympic qualifier at 60kg.

They have preferred her ‘arch rival’, Chantelle Cameron despite many experts in the country believing that at very least Ryan was deserving of a ‘box-off’ especially as Chantelle had already lost in the European qualifier in Samsun.

After that news was broken to her, four days before the finals in Liverpool, the One Nation boxer told the ‘Derby Telegraph: "I'm not so much bothered about them telling me ahead of the finals in Liverpool," she said.

"It's more that it seems so unfair – the fact that I haven't been given a chance to qualify and Chantelle has had two chances now, even after messing up in her first qualifier."

One of her main sponsors though, Carl Tidey of Total Hire & Sales in Derby, has every confidence that Sandy Ryan will be an Olympic medallist one day. His view and that of his Company:

"This is very sad news but she's young, she's talented, she's got determination and she's dedicated – because of that, she will succeed and her time will come, without a shadow of a doubt," he added "It will be a small blip. She has youth on her side and now experience.

"With that, she's going to win gold in the future, that I'm positive about, and I will support her even more than before" he told the ‘Derby Telegraph.

Ryan will though be in Astana as the 64kg representative of her country but as we’ve said so often here on WBAN still only three Olympic weights for women, as against ten for men or in other words 250 men and 36 women. So for Sandy as for hundreds of others no chance of an Olympic medal in 2016.

By any standards this is ‘unfair and unreasonable’ and puts both the AIBA and the IOC in contravention of the Olympic Games charter – on EQUALITY. Though the AIBA continues to point out correctly that the Olympic Games come under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) the fact remains that the number of boxers overall remains as in London 2012 therefore the opportunity arose for the AIBA to recommend at least two more women’s weights for Rio, which is the very least they can now do for Tokyo 2020 that that will still fall far short of most people’s understanding of “EQUALITY”. Where there is a will there is a way!

All the results from the finals here courtesy of STREFA POLAND BOXING:

Women: http://amateur-boxing.strefa.pl/Nationalchamps/England2016w.html
Men: http://amateur-boxing.strefa.pl/Nationalchamps/England2016.html

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