Islington Boxing Club sign six fighters from Finchley

Islington Boxing Club's new arrivals Mason Smith (right) and his dad Darren

Islington Boxing Club's new arrivals Mason Smith (right) and his dad Darren - Credit: Archant

Islington BC have signed six fighters – including national senior finalist Mason Smith – from neighbours Finchley in the fall-out from a startling rift in amateur boxing.

Finchley are among the clubs who recently voted to leave the sport’s national governing body, England Boxing, and join the Amateur Boxing Alliance of England instead.

The split, which means that ABAE clubs can no longer enter existing national tournaments, has influenced several boxers to switch clubs – and Islington are among those to benefit.

The Hazellville Road club, who chose to remain with England Boxing, have signed up Yasar Al-Ghena, Mo Gharib, Chris Oweagbusi, Jerome Campbell and Jiyan Oguz from Finchley in addition to Smith.

Islington manager Reggie Hagland said: “These boxers will have the chance to compete in national championships (under AIBA rules) and box overseas, compete in Box Cup tournaments home and away and, if they’re lucky enough, box for England or GB.

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“It’s a shame it’s come down to this. I don’t think England Boxing is perfect, far from it – but to form a splinter group isn’t the right way forward in my opinion and can only do more harm than good.

“Good friends who I have dealt with for years have come away from England Boxing, but I wish everyone the very best of luck. There are no hard feelings.

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“I’m sure certain clubs have chosen to not affiliate with England Boxing as a protest, and hopefully positive change will come from this.”

The arrival of Smith, who is the current Southern Area England Boxing light-welterweight title holder and reached the national final of the senior elite championships earlier this year, is something of a coup for Islington.

Smith, who represented Finchley more than 100 times, also won a gold medal at the Haringey Box Cup and is currently training with the England set-up.

Making the switch alongside the experienced fighter is his father Darren Smith, who joins Islington as a senior squad coach after 10 years with Finchley.

Meanwhile, Islington have entered 14 senior boxers in the London Development Championships for the new season.

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