England Boxing’s lead performance coach Mick Driscoll believes his determination to instil a winning culture into the squads he coaches was the key ingredient to him being in the running to win a European Boxing Confederation (EUBC) award.
The 49-year-old, who had impressive success during his career in the ring, winning two National Elite Championships in representing City of Portsmouth Boxing Club, has been nominated for best male coach after helping the England squad to a record haul of 34 major championship medals in 2018.
He is the first Englishman to ever be nominated for an award by the sport’s European governing body and will discover if he is a category winner at a ceremony in Rotterdam on Sunday, January 20.
To have the recognition of being in the running for the prize is vindication for everything the team is doing as well.
He said: ‘It’s an honour, I’m very proud and humbled, but it’s just as much recognition for the boxers, clubs and coaches at all levels as it is for me, and shows how far we have come.
‘When I took on my role three years ago, the preparation we put in for major tournaments was minimal and there didn’t seem to be the same the pride in wearing the national vest and representing England as when a boxer was representing their club.
‘That’s something I have been keen to change. I want everyone to feel part of a team when we travel to tournaments and we now prepare boxers so that they can think for themselves and bring the best out of themselves.
‘People always said we could never beat the Cubans and Russians, but I’ve always thought that was rubbish and asked “why not?”.
‘If you look at last year’s Youth Olympics, we were only kept off the top of the medal table by the colour of one medal.
‘We are now outperforming a host of countries and that’s partly been down to changing mindsets to knowing we can compete with the best and be the best.’
As well as his success during his own boxing career representing City of Portsmouth Boxing Club, he also represented England and contended for selection for the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a light-welterweight.
He then turned professional at 18 where he fought for the British title before moving into coaching where he has been an even bigger success.
In 20 years as a coach, he has overseen the development of more than 100 National Championships at West Ham Boxing Club, from schools to elite level, before stepping up to put his vast experience to good use with England Boxing.
He added: ‘My role is different to a lot of other countries in that I coach all England levels, from Elites down to grass roots – and I think that has the big advantage of bringing continuity. When a boxer moves up a level, they’re not going to have someone telling them something different to what they’ve been told previously.
‘I try to get to know every boxer, their parents and their coaches and strike up a relationship with them so you can build that element of trust and respect.
‘We’re now laying the foundations in terms of the development of boxers along with (talent development coach) Amanda Coulson so that the same thinking and pathway follows through from the youngest of boxers to Elite level.
‘The army and the RAF have been brilliant supporters of what we are trying to do by allowing us to have training camps at their venues and the club coaches have been extremely helpful and bought into what we are trying to do as a nation.’