Three Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy (H.O.P) boxers and coaches “Q” Shillingford and Colin Williams travelled to the home of the GB Olympic Boxing Team English Institute of Sports in Sheffield this week to train and spar with the nation’s best boxers in preparation for their ABA & JABA national title bid.
ABA of England Advanced Coach and H.O.P Boss “Q” Shillingford explained: I would of liked to have taken all of the boxers who are in the national championships, unfortunately a lot of them had to attend school, however I managed to get Michael Ballingall (Portsmouth College) and Josh Pritchard (Highbury College) and Robbie Matthews released for “Championship training” with the elite boxers at team GB in the EIS, Sheffield.
They also got to meet and talk to former Commonwealth Gold medalist, Olympic Bronze Medalist and former Super Middleweight Champions Richie Woodhall who is now a consultant and coach for team GB. They of course met the GB Boxing Team and coaches who were in training, as they build up for the 2012 Olympic Games.
The lads had a great time, Josh Pritchard they sparred with World Amateur Boxing Champion Andrew Selby and Bejeing Olympian and the the nations number one “Khalid Yafai” As part of the preparation for the lightweight crown JABA Michael Ballingall and Senior ABA’s Robbie Matthew’s both boxers did two rounds each with GB Boxers Martin Ward (European Gold Medalist) and (Commonwealth youth games Gold Medalist) Iain Weaver all three boxers had 5 rounds each. “Q” added these H.O.P boxers are the amateur games future and what better but to take them to visit their destiny, they all performed very well and we have been invited back to EIS in a few weeks for more sparring and training.
Robbie Matthews added “My confidence has just moved up another level, training at GB is a life changing experience and what an atmosphere.”
England International and National finalist Josh Pritchard, said, to spar these top boxers makes you realize what we have to do, I can not wait for my next training session. The whole GB team was friendly and made us all feel welcome, what an experience.
The added bonus was the attendance and training of WBC Super Middleweight Champion Carl Froch, who took time out to talk to the lads about the boxing world, amateur and professional and the lads got to watch him train and spar. Also China’s female boxing team were over sparring and training in preparation for the Olympics 2012. GB Performance Director and GB Head Coach Robert McCracken, praised the H.O.P boxers for their efforts and fitness and also talked to them about moving up in the amateur world to the GB set up.
Q said: To get boxers to the next level they have to experience what the next level is, they all know now what is expected of them and what they will have to do and how hard the next level will be. There are no short cuts in sport, “if you want to be the best you have to beat the best”.
H.O.P Senior’s head coach Colin Williams said: H.O.P is very proud of the boxers, they did very well; the sparring was controlled but the work rate high, ideal recipe for success.