Portsmouth teenage boxer Harry Jones has Olympic bronze medal winner Ralph Evans and former British title contender Wayne Evans in the family

Given his rich family boxing history, it almost seemed inevitable Harry Jones would follow in the footsteps of those before him and end up in the ring.

By Lewis Mason
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 1:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 10:11 pm
Harry Jones, centre, with Munich 1972 Olympics bronze medallist grandad Ralph Evans, left, along with former British bantamweight title contender great uncle Wayne Evans
Harry Jones, centre, with Munich 1972 Olympics bronze medallist grandad Ralph Evans, left, along with former British bantamweight title contender great uncle Wayne Evans

After all, grandad Ralph Evans claimed a bronze medal in the sport at the 1972 Munich Olympics - the first ever achieved by a Welsh fighter in Games history.

And Harry’s former professional great uncle Wayne Evans fell short as he battled the late Johnny Owen for the British bantamweight belt in 1978 – which offer just two particular highlights of what is quite a family boxing archive.

Yet as a sports-loving child, it was instead time playing cricket for Hambledon and rugby for Portsmouth - along with a period spent in the London Irish Academy set-up - which occupied much of the teenager’s sporting time.

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Harry Jones, left, stands proud with the Evans name on the front of his shorts following his unanimous decision amateur debut victory over Woking's Logan Bull

In fact, it was only after heading along to Havant-based Warrior's Gym ABC a little more than a year ago when the Drayton-based 16-year-old had first entered any kind of boxing environment.

But it would prove a defining step for Harry to take, discovering a love he never knew he had in the process.

That has now provided him with a burning ambition of attempting to achieve some of the glory days reached by those from former Portsmouth City Council leader and current Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and IOW Constabulary mother Donna Jones' side of the family.

‘I think it was probably only a month or so doing boxing, I knew it was what I wanted to do and it was the sport for me,' revealed the former Mayville High School pupil.

Harry Jones' grandad Ralph Evans, right, holds the bag for former professional Wayne Evans during a training session in 1975

‘It’s when I realised, when I got into boxing and understood all these different kinds of tournaments, how difficult it is to win them, it’s when it all clicked and realised how impressive it was (family achievements).

‘Since I was about five years old I’ve always played rugby and cricket - I was quite good at them. I think it was around my 15th birthday - I’m from a boxing family, but I never really grew up around boxing.

‘My grandad boxed, he retired in 1972, then he was a trainer for my great uncle’s brother but then stopped in 1980 - he never looked at the sport again and completely stopped.

‘It’s a bit weird because all my friends were like, ‘you must have been doing it as a kid,’ but it’s the opposite.

Ralph Evans in a contest during the Munich Olympics in 1972 where he won a bronze medal

‘One of my friends was like, ‘I’ve joined a local boxing club,’ so I went down to see what it was like because obviously my grandad was good at boxing.

‘I didn’t know too much about it, but when I joined the coach (Brian Davidson) told me I had something.’

Along with grandad Ralph and great uncle Wayne, Harry’s great grandfather, Gwyn Evans, founded Waterlooville Boxing Club after moving to the south coast from Wales in the 1960s.

Ralph himself had been born in Tonypandy, south Wales, but moved to Waterlooville with his family when he was seven.

Meanwhile, another of Harry’s great uncles - also named Gywn Evans - spent time coaching Leigh Park's former British, Commonwealth and WBU world light-heavyweight title holder Tony Oakey.

Still in the relatively early days of his own boxing journey, Harry is certainly leaving no stone unturned as he looks to make his name in the sport.

Along with his time spent at Warrior's Gym ABC - for whom he had his debut amateur bout earlier this month, beating Woking's Logan Bull on a unanimous decision - he is currently in the first of two years training and studying at the DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) Boxing Academy in Brighton.

But it's the time spent working with former Olympic bronze medallist grandad Ralph out of the specially made back garden boxing gym at his Cosham home which Harry feels is really helping his development.

‘I want to do as much as I can because obviously I’ve just had my first fight, but I can tell this is for me. I feel I can go somewhere quite far with boxing,' added Harry.

‘I think one of the biggest reasons I’ve developed and done so well in such a short amount of time in boxing is because I understand stuff pretty well. I think that’s mostly because I have hours long chats with my grandad about boxing.

‘If I go to the boxing gym and the coach Brian (Davidson) says, ‘do this move, blah, blah, blah,’ I know I’m doing it for a reason, I’m doing it in case my opponent does that.

‘Understanding and going through (areas), I have a really good knowledge of boxing because of being with my grandad and what he’s told me.

‘When I started boxing he (Ralph) didn’t really want me to get in the ring because I’m his grandson.

‘When I started boxing he said, ‘if you really want to compete then I won’t stop you because what you’ve got I don’t want you to waste it.’

And Harry showed just how much his family boxing background means to him with a tribute to those on mother Donna's side of the family under the bright lights on his amateur debut, with the name Evans on the front of his shorts.

‘My boots (for debut fight) were all white with red Adidas stripes - it’s the same colour as my grandad wore in the Olympics,’ said Harry.

‘I’m just going to do as much as I can in the amateurs, hopefully maybe turn professional one day, then after that I think I’m going to do a bit of property work.’