76 men and 42 women will compete in this weekend’s 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 will be the second time in the events 128 year history that the men and women’s finals will be held as part of the same tournament.
The competition features six reigning champions and seven members of GB Boxing’s elite Podium squad.
The defending champions include 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), Cherelle Brown (light-welterweight) and Natasha Gale (middleweight).
Reigning women’s flyweight champion and 2014 World Championship silver medallist, Lisa Whiteside, said: “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 in the competition include fellow 2014 World Championship silver medallist, Sandy Ryan and Sheffield’s Natasha Gale. The men include exciting super-heavyweight, Daniel Dubois, who will be competing in the National Finals for the first time, Sunny Edwards, Ekow Essuman and Liverpool’s Peter McGrail, who will be hoping to go one better than last year’s second place.
McGrail said: “I am looking to right the wrong of last year’s final. I don’t think I boxed my best that day, but after watching it back I think I did enough to win. My coaches have all said the same but these things happen in boxing and the good thing is that I have an opportunity to put it right.”
Landing a first national title would cap a superb year for the Everton Red Triangle boxer that has seen him fast-tracked into GB Boxing’s elite Podium Squad where he now trains four days per week at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield.
He has also competed for the British Lionhearts in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and comes into the National Finals in good form after a sparkling performance in the team’s quarter-final victory over the Ukraine Otamans when he totally outclassed Vladyslav Vyetoshkin over five rounds at York Hall.
McGrail is part of a strong contingent of 12 boxers from Liverpool competing in their hometown finals, which also includes Salisbury ABC’s Blane Hyland, who is looking to maintain a proud family tradition.
“My grandad and my dad have both won the ABAs and I want to be the third generation to win it, so it’s a big deal for me and my family,” explained Hyland.
“I made the semis two years ago and the final last year, so this is going to be third time lucky for me. I feel I have really improved in all aspects in the last 12 months and am going in there expecting to win this year.”
England Boxing board member and Chair of the Technical Rules and Championships Sub-Committee, Giorgio Brugnoli, said: “The finals weekend of the Elite National Championships is one of the highlights of the boxing calendar. It is steeped in history and an opportunity for boxers to make a name for themselves and show they are the best at their weight in England.
“Previous winners include big names like Anthony Joshua, Carl Froch, Frank Bruno, David Haye, Nigel Benn and, in the women’s competition, Nicola Adams, and I am sure that this weekend we will see some boxers that go on to become major stars of the future.”
On Friday 29 April, the quarter-final bouts will be held from 12.00 noon onwards with two rings in the Arena. On Saturday 30 April, there will be one ring in the Arena for the semi-finals, which will run from 12.00 noon. The finals on Sunday 1 May will start at 2.00pm.
Tickets are on sale now for the England Boxing Elite National Championships 2016 and can be purchased in advance by calling the Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 8000 400 or online at http://www.echoarena.com/englandboxing.
Weekend passes for all three days are priced £39 and £28 concessions (including booking fees). Individual day tickets start at £11.50 (£6.50 concs) including booking fees.