Islington boxer seals second national title as team-mate is barred for being too old

Hazel Gale (left) wins

Hazel Gale (left) wins - Credit: Archant

Islington BC’s Hazel Gale stormed to her second national title on Sunday – but team-mate Valerian Spicer was cruelly denied that opportunity by ABA officials.

Gale claimed the women’s Class A Under-67kg national ABA crown with a convincing victory over Derby City’s Gemma Smith in the final at Brentwood.

She was due to be joined by Spicer, who was also seeking national ABA glory for the second time, and had qualified for the Class C Under-57kg final by defeating Sydenham’s Karina Webster just a week earlier.

However, just two days before her scheduled final, the ABA informed Spicer that she was no longer eligible to box, having celebrated her 34th birthday earlier this month.

That placed her in breach of existing ABA rules, which forbid boxers competing beyond the age of 33 – although those regulations are due to change next year.

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In addition to Spicer’s misfortune, a third Islington fighter, Cherrelle Brown, was also denied the chance to box when her opponent Leigh Helliwell (Hoyle Mill Police) effectively conceded the contest by pulling out at short notice.

The bout would have been a repeat of last year’s Class C Under-63.5kg final, when Brown stopped Helliwell in the third round to win her first national title.

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Fortunately, the performance of Gale was virtually flawless as she circled the ring from the opening bell and constantly caught the Derby southpaw as she came rushing in to attack.

There were fierce exchanges between the pair, most notably at the end of the second round and the beginning of the third, but Gale always appeared to be a couple of steps ahead.

The Islington boxer maintained control during the closing stages and a sustained attack just before the final bell forced the referee to issue Smith with a standing eight count.

The result was never in doubt, however, and all five judges awarded the decision in favour of Gale, who becomes the first female Islington boxer to win at elite class.

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