New boy Inder Bassi feels Islington Boxing Club switch can propel him towards national championship

Islington BC's Inder Bassi

Islington BC's Inder Bassi - Credit: Archant

Inder Bassi hopes his move to Islington BC can prove to be the catalyst for his first national title after a run of near misses.

The 19-year-old welterweight has lost two finals on split decisions – as well as having his chance of a Haringey Box Cup gold medal scuppered by a cut above his eye earlier this year.

But Bassi feels reinvigorated by his decision to move to the Hazellville Road gym two months ago after his Hainault-based club Gator ABC opted to end their membership of England Boxing.

Now he is ready to launch another bid for glory in his new colours, with the National Association of Boys and Girls’ Clubs Championship due to get under way with the regional rounds at Harlow this weekend.

“It was a hard move for me – I’d been at Gator from when I was a child and they were like family,” Bassi told the Gazette. “But once they pulled out of England Boxing, this was the right thing for me.

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“As a senior fighter who wants to box for England one day, it didn’t really suit me. That’s every kid’s dream and with Gator I couldn’t do that anymore.

“I’ve been a bit unlucky with finals and I’ve got to start winning. This is a complete shake-up, which has got to do me good. It’s my time now and I feel strong.

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“I’ve come to a new club with new ideas, new coaching techniques and new forms of training, new boys to spar – it’s a new environment and I feel ready, like I can really win these championships.

“People say I’m a counter-puncher. I’m tall for my weight and I’ve got good foot movement, so I tend to keep my distance and box on the back foot. However, I can step up when I need to – a good fighter can adapt.”

The rangy teenager, who has entered the tournament at Under-69kg, comes from a boxing family – his grandfather was one of the first London-based Asian fighters during the 1960s.

Inder’s uncle Jumbo Bassi is well-known in east London boxing circles, having been a stalwart of Fairbairn ABC for many years, while another uncle, Mik, was a referee at the 2012 Olympic Games.

The younger Bassi first visited Gator at the age of 11 – initially to build up his strength as a footballer – but he soon took to boxing and went on to reach the final of the national schoolboys’ championship in his first year.

While he is still based in Redbridge, Bassi believes his 45-minute journey to training in north London is well worth the additional time and effort.

“From where my old club was, about 10 minutes down the road, it’s a big difference,” said Bassi. “There were a few others nearer to me, but Islington had a good reputation.

“I’d been there before for sparring and I knew it was a friendly club with a friendly atmosphere. Everyone seems to get on with each other – there was just something about Islington that you can’t pinpoint.

“The coaches are good and the training’s not the same thing over and over again – it’s something different. The first day I came down was a Friday and they were doing strength and conditioning with a specialist coach.

“They were doing stuff I’d never seen before in six years and I just felt this was for me.

“I knew a few of the other boys, like Mason Smith and Yasar Al-Ghena from elsewhere, and I thought if good boxers like that were coming to Islington, there must be something that’s pulled them towards it.”

Just in case Bassi still needed any convincing to join Islington, he was actually advised to make the switch by none other than his Gator coach Keith Markham.

“I respect Keith from the bottom of my heart and I still see him every now and then, as well as my other coach from Gator, Cliff Spong,” Bassi added.

“I said to Keith that it didn’t make sense for me to stay at Gator, it was hindering my progress, and he shook my hand and told me to go with his blessing.

“He also recommended Islington to me – he said it was a club that had maintained its standards and he actually phoned [Islington manager] Reggie Hagland up to arrange it as well.”

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