Professional boxer Billy Bird believes the sky is the limit for some of Sudbury’s talented youngsters after witnessing them in action in a record attended bumper home show.
More than 300 people packed into the marquee at Sudbury Rugby Club in Great Cornard on Sunday as Sudbury ABC hosted their spring show, which doubled up with the prestigous Eastern Counties Schoolboy Championships.
The home crowd had plenty to cheer on the day as both 14-year-old Jack Wiffen (Under-48kg) and 13-year-old Jake Carrington (U52kg) were crowned Eastern Counties champions after winning on unanimous decisions.
The pair will now go forward to contest the England Boxing Junior Championships quarter-finals at Debenham Leisure Centre a week on Saturday.
Joe Marsh, 13, the home club’s other representative among the 15 Eastern Counties fights, agonizingly lost on a split decision to Chalvedon’s highly-rated 2015 national finalist Luke Bellfield in his U40kg bout.
But Bird, who honed his ring craft at the club before going on to the professional ranks, believes Marsh is one of a handful who have a very bright future.
Having been invited back to the club to hand out trophies on the night, ahead of his big international title fight in Braintree this Saturday, he said: “There is a lot of great talent at the club, particularly Jack Wiffen and Joe Marsh. Those two boys have got bright futures if they keep their heads down and keep progressing at the rate they are.
“Hopefully I gave them some useful advice. Ruby East, as well, looks like a great little fighter. This is positive times for the club, which is great to see.”
He added: “It was a real honour to go back to my roots. It was great to be asked and to see so many familiar faces. These are people that started me on the path I have taken and I owe them a lot. I will never forget where I came from.”
Sudbury’s head coach, Neil Anderson, was delighted to see two of his rising stars progress to the national quarter-finals, though frustrated to see the other come so close only to miss out.
“Joe’s (bout) shows it’s not easy to win an Eastern Counties title, and to win two out of three for our little market town is really good,” he said.
“It was just such a shame that for one judge’s opinion we didn’t get three out of three, but that is boxing and they all boxed really well.
“It really was a great day of boxing; there was not a bad bout.”
Among the 33 fights on the card, he picked out 16-year-old Victoria Papp’s first fight, a win over her Colchester opponent, for special praise.
“She has got Asperger Syndrome and she just boxed exactly how she had been told to and won on a split decision. She deserved it though and it was just great to see her face light up. She did very, very well.”
Meanwhile, James Tidy, 18, avenged his defeat earlier on this season to Mayland’s Henry Martin in a 90kg bout while Ruby East, 14, lost her 50kg fight on a split decision and Jimmy Fell and Jack Burgess lost on points after having to give weight away in re-arranged fights in what Anderson said was a good ‘learning experience’.
Five skills bouts took place, involving: Kray Moore, 10, Noah Ranson, 10, Kie Bryan, 13, Nick Judge, 12 and ring debutant Ronnie Emmins, 14.