by Matthew McEvoy
Kingston boxers toughed it out against some of the finest opposition in the country, returning home battered and bruised but victorious in last month's British Championship preliminaries.
The four-strong squad had no intention of returning home empty handed and fighters Tomasz Koprowski, 23, and Nabiel Malik, 20, made sure they booked their places in this month’s British Universities Championship Sport (BUCS) British finals.
In a display of steely resistance, both boxers managed to battle through injury to outscore their respective opponents – second year computer science student Tomasz doing so in emphatic fashion, systematically destroying 71kg semi-finalist Tony Trofimczuk, 30 points to the Bath University boxer’s 13 – the highest score recorded all weekend.
His head was like a stone
Polish born boxer Tomasz said: “Tony [Trofimczuk’s] head was like a stone; I kept hitting him but I couldn’t knock him out, he wouldn’t go down. I out-pointed him with the highest score of the competition though – 30-13 says it all.”
One of the newer additions to Kingston’s squad, Koprowski has firmly set his eyes on BUCS gold. Even though his current silver would not be a disaster Koprowski insists there is more to come: “It was my greatest personal achievement and the biggest in my boxing career.
“I intend to go back to the finals and win gold. I want to win it for my club, for Kingston and myself.” He said.
Kingston continued to shine as third year architecture student, and current 54kg British champion Nabiel Malik, took on opposition from top boxing university Portsmouth.
Little sign of ring rust
Malik was unlucky to miss competing in last year’s BUCS British Championships after his scheduled opponent pulled out, yet he showed little sign of ring rust, dispatching of Portsmouth’s Aimal Mazik in a tightly fought battle of observation and wit. Like Koprowski, Malik lasted the distance, outscoring current BUCS English Champion Mazik six points to four.
Malik was delighted with his performance, despite the contest’s gruelling nature, saying: “He was awkward, cautious even. I hit him right in the button and from there on it was like he didn’t want to fight.
“I think he just wanted to see it out on points. He landed a couple of good punches, but I countered fairly easily.”
Malik has been a mainstay in Kingston boxing over the past three years, developing from a relatively inexperienced amateur to a formidable bantamweight boxer.
Success is not something that has come easily however; regular dieting and rigorous training almost took its toll he explains: “I only just came in on weight and throughout the fight it felt like my stomach was cramping,
“It was worth it, it means the world to me. My four brothers are proud, as are my mum and dad. I can only hope I win when we go back to Sheffield.” he added.
Kingston’s two other competitors Loukas Baltzoglou, 20 and Ayo Salami, 21, were not so fortunate with final decision. 75kg contender Baltzoglou was stopped in the third round in what appeared to be a harsh decision by the referee, while Salami, boxing at a catch-weight of 63.5kg, went the distance but was out-scored on points.
Both boxers deserve credit however for dignified performances in contests which appeared on paper to be miss-matches.
Head Coach Hassan spoke highly of his fighters, saying: “It was a wonderful tournament with some admirable performances.
“If there were anything to be said about the team, the coaches, the individual boxers or the support was that we have an extremely sporting nature.”
Speaking ahead of the March finals he added: “I highly anticipate two more wins, two more golds – the icing on the cake would be if they were through stoppages.”
Watch Kingston’s Tomasz Koprowksi take on Bath Universities Tony Trofimcuk in their 71kg semi final contest: