Young boxers tell of heartache after Portsmouth show axed due to ‘risk to life’

Disgruntled boxers from Team Wiseman Boxing Club
Disgruntled boxers from Team Wiseman Boxing Club
A dockyard mobile crane unloads the cargo of cement from the coaster at Flathouse Quay, Portsmouth

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YOUNG boxers have told of their upset after a championship was cancelled over police fears lives would be at risk.

Portsmouth was due to host England Boxing’s Junior Championships tomorrow and Sunday.

To end up like this is a bit of a bad blow

Q Shillingford

But organisers said Hampshire police told them there was a ‘threat to life’ to all involved, including spectators, and the fights should be axed.

Boxer Tyler Hallawell, 15, was due to fight on Saturday and had been training.

He said: ‘It’s quite upsetting because I’ve been getting up at half six in the morning and running and now this.

‘I’ve been training twice a week for five days a week.’

His dad Glen Hallawell, 34, of Leigh Park, said: ‘Tyler is devastated, we all were, the whole family.

‘We had all the family and friends coming down to see him.’

England Boxing board member Giorgio Brugnoli said: ‘Police said there’s a threat to the safety of the participants, to the spectators and to the officials.’

In a statement he added: ‘The police were clear that if the remaining events for the Junior Championship were not cancelled by England Boxing, they themselves would seek a court order to close the events. They were clear that not to cancel the events would jeopardise the safety of everyone involved – potentially to a life-threatening degree. With little more information, sadly we have very little choice in complying and ensuring the safety of the boxers and their coaches, families and supporters.’

Mr Brugnoli told The News the body had offered to run the events behind closed doors and at a military base but police still refused to agree permissions. The organisation cancelled the event.

Its statement said police had said they would go to court if the organisers tried to go ahead regardless.

Mr Brugnoli added: ‘I’m not having a go at the police, at the end of the day they’re doing their job.’

But youngsters across the area have been left upset at the decision.

Coach Darren Blair was hoping young boxer Amy Cooper, 15, would be successful in the competition.

Darren, from Gosport Boxing Club, said: ‘I’m absolutely devastated. She’s been training harder than ever before.

‘She’s hoping to get picked for England – she’s got a point to prove.

‘The second she was ready for it this weekend it’s cancelled. We’re going to lose amateur boxers.’

Coach Q Shillingford, from Heart of Portsmouth boxing, had been training Paris Williams, 14, who was due to fight.

He said: ‘Paris has trained really hard. It’s such a shame. A lot of boxing clubs have worked hard to get recognised by England and for them to come down and host it is quite a thing. To end up like this is a bit of a bad blow.’

She will still box on Saturday at the Charter Academy at 12.30pm. Entry is £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s.

But Paris said it feels like ‘her dreams have been shattered’.

She said: ‘I was really devastated because I’ve spent hours and hours in the gym for months on end.

‘I lost last year, and so my ambition this year was to win. It feels like my dreams have been shattered a bit.’

The event has now been split into two competitions. The north championship will take place in Wakefield, North Yorkshire, on Sunday but no arrangements have been confirmed for the south.

Superintendent Will Schofield, Portsmouth’s top police officer, said: ‘Hampshire Constabulary officers met with representatives from England Boxing yesterday to discuss plans for a sporting event to be held in Portsmouth.

‘At this meeting intelligence relating to ongoing investigations that may have an impact on this event was presented to the organisers. Following discussion it was agreed by all parties that the event should be cancelled. We hope to work with the organisers in future to run events in the county following a very positive discussion yesterday.’

Management at the Mountbatten Centre were also at the meeting.