EXCLUSIVE: Fond farewell to boyhood club as boxing star Stevens joins top London gym

NATIONAL champion Charlie Stevens has said an emotional goodbye to his boyhood boxing club after leaving to chase his Olympic dream at a top London gym.

The 16-year-old became March Amateur Boxing Club’s first Junior Amateur Boxing Association champion since 1957 in May this year. He triumphed at the three nations championship in July - adding a British junior title to his trophy cabinet.

But the rising star, from Upwell, bid a fond farewell to March ABC this month as he began training alongside fellow champions at West Ham Boys ABC.

Stevens said: “There’s a lot of sadness in leaving March. I’ve been there since I was nine and they aren’t just trainers, they are great friends.

“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today. The club has given me the best training there is but I feel like I’ve outgrown the competition in the area.

“I think I will improve a lot from being at West Ham because all the boys from the gym are classy. They don’t just win championships, they walk through them and wipe the floor with everyone. That’s what I want to do.”

Stevens is training three days a week at the London club, which has produced boxers including former world champion Nigel Benn. His younger brother Cole, 13, has also joined West Ham.

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Stevens said: “I was nervous when I first went - you don’t want to be the new boy in the corner who is getting whooped. There’s a bit of pressure but the people are really nice and welcoming.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was little, this is it for me. My dream is to get to the Olympics eventually but that’s incredibly hard.

“We’ve got videos at home of me when I was two wearing my dad’s gloves. I was just one of those little boys who wanted to be a boxer.”

Stevens, who switched on the Christmas lights in March last month, thanked everyone at his boyhood club including Dave Cole, Bernie Wing, Frank Allen, Scott Cullam and Will Sutton.

“I’ve got great memories of the club,” he said. “I will always keep in touch and I definitely haven’t stepped into March ABC for the last time.

“I would like to thank everyone at the gym and in the community. If I ever made it, a lot of it would be because of March.”