Brothers can raise Times ABC profile with success in Sweden

Left to right: Zak Chelli Sr (coach), Yahia Chelli, Zak Chelli, Tony Lucas (coach)

Left to right: Zak Chelli Sr (coach), Yahia Chelli, Zak Chelli, Tony Lucas (coach) - Credit: Archant

Times ABC coach Tony Lucas hopes the Chelli brothers can put the club “back on the map” with success at this weekend’s prestigious King of the Ring tournament.

Yahia Chelli, 18, and his 16-year-old brother Zak – both middleweights – will be representing the York Way club at the invitational tournament in the Swedish city of Boras.

And Lucas, who will be one of the coaches in the brothers’ corner – along with their father Zak Sr – is optimistic that the pair can make other British and European clubs sit up and take notice.

“It’s almost like a big European tournament and this will be a good test for them,” Lucas told the Gazette. “Hopefully they can be a credit to the club and they’ll go on and win something.

“I think they need this test – they need to fight at this level and I’m sure there will be some boxers they know nothing about. But I’ve got a good feeling about it.

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“If they do well it’ll help to get the Times back on the map. Then other people can feed off their experience and we’ll be able to bring a few more boys out to this tournament next year.

“Young Zak’s still a junior, but he’s so strong he’s happy to spar seniors as well and he’s clearly on the England radar. You wouldn’t think there was much difference between them.

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“They’re both really nice boys, always willing to help other youngsters, and people do stand and stare when they’re sparring – their movement and range of shots is a joy to watch.”

Yahia will box in the senior A category, with his brother in the youth A section at the invitational tournament, which has attracted hundreds of entries to date.

The competition, which is open to male boxers of all classes, gets under way on Friday, and continues until Sunday.

Times ABC duo Zaki Hussain and Ali Qayumi narrowly missed out on London titles in the junior novices finals at the TA Centre, Grove Park.

Hussain (Under-48kg) lost a close but unanimous decision to David Joyce (Hornchurch & Elm Park), who had earlier defeated Lion ABC’s Frankie Arnold in the semi-finals.

Clubmate Qayumi came even closer to securing a London championship as he was on the wrong end of a majority verdict in the Under-65kg final against L Payne (Repton).

Times head coach Dave Ryan said: “I felt both boys did enough and a lot of people came up to Zaki afterwards, telling him they thought he’d won it.

“Ali gave it everything as well – he nearly stopped the boy at one point. When you get a split decision you know that means you’ve been right in there.”

Qayumi dominated the centre of the ring, catching Payne with a flurry of shots at the end of the second round, but the Repton boy was rescued by the bell and recovered to finish the contest strongly.

However, the club will be fielding one representative in the national stage of the competition, which takes place later this month, after Islam Llabjani’s scheduled opponent pulled out of the Under-60kg London final.

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