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Royal Navy boxers aim for title of UK Armed Forces champions

14 March 2018
Eight Royal Navy boxers will compete over the next couple of months with the ultimate dream of making their respective national squad.

Royal Navy boxers aim for title of UK Armed Forces championsThe first major competition of the season is the UK Armed Forces Championships to be held in Aldershot on March 22 where the Navy team is aiming to beat the Army for the title - ending a 30-year deadlock.

Chief Petty Officer Chris Smith, the Royal Navy Boxing Team's Head Coach, said many of the eight RN boxers were going into the competition as the favourites to win and have a good chance of becoming the overall combined services champion.

In doing so, they would qualify to attend the National Elite Championship in London where there is the opportunity of being selected for the national squad. 

CPO Smith said, "The Royal Navy boxing team has an excellent chance of winning the champs this year, the Army win it every year, but this season there is a great buzz in the RN camp and we really believe we can do it.

"I took over a successful team from last season and this time around have been implementing a lot of strength and conditioning training which includes standard boxing training as well as swim circuits. We've been out round the country travelling to spar with different clubs and boxers including the Scottish Commonwealth boxing team and the Royal Marines boxing teams which were particular highlights.

"We're having a really good season for us, we've gone from strengths to strength. Last year was a close contest at the Combined service championships and we're going to make the Army work for their points. The RAF are also entering three competitors so it is a really competitive champs this year.

"The title is there for us to win and the Army will be under pressure to defend it - but we're coming to take it away."

The Royal Navy boxing team has an excellent chance of winning the champs this year, the Army win it every year, but this season there is a great buzz in the RN camp and we really believe we can do it

Chief Petty Officer Chris Smith, Royal Navy Boxing Team Head Coach

Within the Navy team are a number of boxers who hold English title belts as well as Southern Counties and Southern Area belts.

Portsmouth's own Royal Marine Jack Stringer was crowned Armed Forces Champion in 2017 and is an English title belt holder at Middleweight, whilst Portsmouth born Able Seaman Robbie Mathews is an England Amateur Boxing Association finalist.

Jack, who will compete at 75kg,  said: "It's been brilliant to be the two time Royal Navy champion and I'm also now aiming to be the two times UK Armed Forces Champion.

"I'm a full time boxer and train here three times a day. We do a lot of sparring and nine-minute rounds on the bag plus track work including sprints plus strength and conditioning so the whole squad are feeling the benefits - we are a much tougher squad than we were the last time around.

"We'll be on the Army's home ground but we are aiming to take the title away from this year."

This is the first full season for Engineering Technician (Marine Engineer)  Reehan Ali who has already been crowned RN champion 2018 and Southern Counties Champion 2018 and will compete at 56kg.

Reehan said: I'm really looking forward to the champs - we've been working really hard this season and are all up for the challenge. It has been hard work and a lot of time and effort has been put in to getting us to the required standard. The main thing is to keep enjoying it and trying to constantly get better."

Royal Navy Engineer Technician Luke Fisher, 23, is already the English Welterweight title belt holder. He has been crowned the Armed Forces champion for the last three years running and will be going for his fourth year in a row. 

Luke, who competes at 69kg, said: "It's been a brilliant season so far with a new programme and changes to how we train which I think has made us a stronger squad. Everything is coming together at the perfect time and this is the best I have felt all season - I am ready to go and looking forward to the champs.

"We say every year this is the team to do it but genuinely this year our spirits are high and I don't think you could get a better group of people together. It's always tough against the Army but we are going there to win."

The boxers will first compete in the Armed Forces prelim fights on 19 March, then the finals on the 22 March.

The National Elite Championships pre-quarters will be held on the 7 April, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals all taking place on the 22 April in London.

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