Three Guildford City boxers were in action on Wednesday night as part of a Southern Counties select team doing battle with the Army boxing team at Sir John Moore barracks in Winchester.
Twenty six year old Cranleigh heritage builder Mark Desmond captained the Counties team & faced Gunner Westwood of the Royal Artillery also in a welter weight contest. Desmond, who has only recently returned to full training after becoming a father for the first time following the birth of his daughter Sky also took the bout at short notice with only three days to prepare. However, the City man was unfazed & put on a master class of well balanced switch hitting boxing using a ram rod lead jab to set up combinations to head & body while taking little punishment in return to earn a a unanimous points victory. A beaming Ben Harmsworth commented “I am very pleased for Mark. He has had some trying times lately & really deserved a night like this. It is great to see the fruit of his labours after working so hard throughout the season.”
Twenty four year old Will Whitehorn from Chertsey faced Pte Love from the Royal Anglian Regiment in a welter weight contest. This City man took the bout at twenty four hours notice after more experienced Love’s original opponent withdrew with injury. Whitehorn walked to the ring accompanied by an army drummer & coach Ben Harmsworth & rose to the occasion putting in a spirited crowd pleasing performance much to the delight of the 550 strong audience made up of army officers & new recruits in full uniform. Standing in the orthodox stance with his lead hand held low Whitehorn mixed controlled aggression with impressive footwork to push Pte Love all the way over the three two minute rounds. The bout went to the judges’ scorecards where the City man lost a split decision with two electing for Love & one picking Whitehorn. Coach Harmsworth commented “Will did us all proud. He put on a fantastic performance despite the short notice.”
City’s Jeff Dixon who is trained by City, England & GB coach John Edwards at the club’s Park Barn gym was less fortunate. The nineteen year old faced twenty two year old Pte Martin of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment in a middle weight contest. Six foot one inch Dixon was knocked to the floor early in the first round & bravely rose at the count of six. The teenager did well to remain calm & fired back straight shots of his own in a remarkable show of bravery that brought the watching soldiers to their feet & momentarily stopped Martin in his tracks. However, it was not enough & the strong, aggressive army boxer marched forward again to land more shots of his own prompting referee Captain Chris Roberts to issue a standing eight count before waiving the bout off. Coach Edwards was dissapointed for Dixon but commented “Jeff showed a lot of courage tonight & now that we know what he is made of I am sure that he will be back & will continue to progress.”
In other bouts Littlehampton’s Elliot Mathews lost a unanimous decision to Gunner Stewart of the Royal Artillery, Derek Renfrew of Turner’s Boxing Academy in Camberley beat LCpl Nealon of The Rifles when the latter was disqualified for persistent holding, Felix Kelly of Tunbridge Wells won a unanimous decision over LCpl Kenway of the Royal Anglian Regiment when the bout went to the cards after two rounds with both boxers cut following a clash of heads & Sajid Amendi of Golden Ring lost a unanimous decision to Cpl Lines of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers. With two points for a win, one for a defeat & none for a disqualification the match ended in a 10-10 draw.
Captain E Williams who organised the event explained why boxing is so important to the British Army: “Boxing is perhaps the most challenging sport of all. A boxer requires a unique blend of speed, strength & endurance. In addition to these qualities, he must stand up to the punishment inflicted by an equally matched opponent. To withstand the inevitable pain & fatigue, the boxer must possess a mind that is as tough as his body. Regardless of your abilities, the time will come when you must battle fatigue. You may be hurt or injured, yet forced to continue, you can not look to the referee to call timeout. Instead, you must fight until the bell rings. You have the option to quit, but real fighters never quit. A boxer must have the mental fortitude to succeed regardless of the adversity faced inside the ring. Within the army boxing remains an important training & development medium because it helps to develop qualities such as: self discipline, in & out of the ring; high standards of physical fitness, stamina & co-ordination; Controlled aggression & the will to win; Courage, both mental & physical & the ability to apply skills whilst under pressure.