Sport

Analysis: Why The Navy Weren't The Only Inter-Services Boxing Winners

While the 2018 Inter-Services Boxing Championships may belong to the Royal Navy, the competition showed how far the sport has come in the...

While the 2018 Inter-Services Boxing Championships may belong to the Royal Navy, the competition showed how far the sport has come in the RAF.

Three finalists and two Inter-Services champions at Aldershot represents their best-ever return.

Chairman of the RAF Boxing Association, Squadron Leader Carl Whalley, told Forces Network:

"The team we have put in today has been the... [result] of 10 years of effort and development with our coaching."

"The boys have done us proud tonight and boxed exceptionally well - and we're unlucky to have only two of the three go through."

The first of the RAF boxers to impress was Senior Aircraftman Ricki Lyon at bantamweight, up against the Navy's Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Reehan Ali.

Lyon won the 56-kilo UK forces title in 2015 and looked impressive, claiming a unanimous 21st win on points.

Based at RAF Waddington like SAC Lyon was forces lightweight champion SAC Keiran Bailey, a former junior England amateur boxing semi-finalist.

He was up against the Navy's Diver Bradley Chapman, himself an Eastern Counties champion.

RAF boxer 2018 British military Inter-Services Championships

SAC Bailey took the title on a split decision, despite making his opponent take a standing count.

The biggest challenge the RAF faces in boxing is that the Navy and Army boast full-time athletes, whereas the light blues pride themselves on being part-time, training for a few weeks before major events.

It sets them at a clear Inter-Services disadvantage but means getting three boxers into the forces finals was in itself a major achievement.

Their third fighter, at welterweight, was Northolt-based SAC Tom Simpson, who has reached an England amateur boxing semi-final.

The Navy's ETME Luke Fisher was only just the stronger man, with SAC Simpson losing on a split verdict from the judges. Sqn Ldr Whalley said:

"It doesn't do us any harm at all to have success at this level."

"We'll push hard and work hard to make sure that next year we build on the success and next year we're challenging for the title."

Next year will mark the centenary of the RAF Boxing Association, which now has top officials and coaches in place to make its boxers more competitive.

But to challenge for the title they'll almost certainly need to give their top boxers more time in the ring.

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