Teenager John-Henry Keet's junior southern counties win can inspire gym mates to restore Leigh Park Amateur Boxing Club's glory days

Head coach Billy Bessey is hoping young gun John-Henry Keet's junior southern counties title glory is the first in a long line of successes to come for Leigh Park Amateur Boxing Club members.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 3:56 pm
John-Henry Keet, centre, with coach Rob Ford, right, and Leigh Park Amateur Boxing Club head coach Billy Bessey

Keet, 14, came up short in his quest to reach the national finals in Newcastle this weekend after suffering a quarter-final defeat under-62kg loss to Barton Hill Boxing Club's Teo Miles in Bristol.

Bessey, a former ABA heavyweight champion himself, boxed out of the gym alongside brother Chris - a six-time ABA title winner - and former WBU light heavyweight world champion Tony Oakey during his days as an amateur.

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And Billy Bessey wants the current Leigh Park ABC crop to gain confidence from Keet's junior southern counties u-62kg title win.

He said: ‘We’ve now got a southern area champion, obviously Covid took place, but it’s the first one we’ve had since taking the club over. The club hasn’t had a champion for a few years so it’s lovely now we’ve got a champion and we’ve got someone for the younger boxers to look up to.

‘Success breeds success so hopefully he’ll help bring the other lads along now.

‘Leigh Park is like a sleeping giant around here at the moment, it’s lovely that the other clubs are starting to notice we’re getting there, saying, ‘it’s lovely to have you back in the game,’ sort of thing.'

Bessey admitted Keet's close quarter-final defeat to Miles was a 'bitter-pill to swallow’.

But the Leigh Park ABC coach reckons his win to claim the junior southern counties title against Middlesex-based Odyssey Boxing Club's Liam Dunne showed he can mix it with the best at his age.