'Like football without a ball' – sparring returns at Islington Boxing Club

Islington Boxing Club

Coach Roy Callaghan oversees sparring in one ring whilst Lenny Hagland supervises the other at Islington Boxing Club - Credit: Islington Boxing Club

Senior boxers at Islington Boxing Club had a much welcome return to sparring on Monday night as Covid restrictions were lifted.

Members who had taken a break from training returned to the gym on Monday, and will now wait for approval from coaches to spar again.

Junior boxers were allowed to spar shortly after the club reopened in April, and half a dozen juniors are ready to box from August onwards. A couple IBC will enter into the National Schools Championships in September.

Senior boxer Alex Bogen, 21, said: "I've been at Islington for a couple of years, and it's been frustrating for me and my teammates who have been training under restrictions and lockdowns, it was great to finally get back in the ring and get hit on the nose again!

"We're all very rusty at the minute but hope to box from September onwards.

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"I felt that the restrictions imposed on amateur boxing were unfair and damaging in the long run. Without sparring it was like a footballer playing football without a ball.

"I've not boxed in a contest yet and looking forward to having the opportunity to eventually represent Islington Boxing Club." 

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The club has lost a handful of boxers during the pandemic. Slavisa Gegic has turned pro, and will make his debut on August 7 at York Hall alongside friend and ex-Islington teammate Masood Abdullah in his second pro contest. Connor Daly has opted to hang his gloves up to pick up a pair of pads instead.

Islington Boxing Club

Connor Daly on the pads with Christos Pantelli at Islington Boxing Club - Credit: Islington Boxing Club

It is expected to be a busy season for the Hazellville Road club despite the lack of club shows in London for a variety of reasons. England Boxing are doubling up championships this coming season, hoping to make up for lost time.

IBC at present plan to host only one home show, on Friday May 13, 2022 – a dinner boxing show at the Royal National Hotel.

Due to the ever-rising costs of running an open show and the difficulty of securing a nearby venue that is both affordable and suitable, the club will not be hosting any other shows at present.

However, it hopes to find sponsors for future open events.

A few away team matches have been pencilled in, including boxing the RAF behind closed doors at a base in mid-October; another encounter against Jersey Leonis ABC in the Channel Islands in February; and overseas against 1860 Munich, Germany in late May.

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