Winning 'Army Sportsman of the Year' for 2018 is a “real benchmark for my career”, says boxing star, Lance Corporal Chez Nihell.
Over a six-year army boxing career, LCpl Nihell has had plenty of success such as winning the Armed Forces regional championships every year and being part of three consecutive victories at the Haringey Box Cup from 2015-2018.
Despite the many achievements, the boxer ranks this award at the very top.
He said: “It’s not bad at all. It’s a real benchmark of my career.
"Just to get nominated for this award alone was a massive honour so to be stood here now, I’m truly grateful.
Winning the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) title in October 2016 put LCpl Nihell in with an exclusive class of boxers who have been Super Heavyweight Champion, including Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora and Audley Harrison.
“That ABA title was always the holy grail for me,” he proudly stated. “Every year I got to the ABA and it was quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals.
"Every year was just tripping up on that last hurdle and then I said this year, I believe this is my year.”
Missing out on the award were cyclist Sergeant Mark Robertson and a nomination from Pistol Shooting for Sergeant Sam Gowin.
In his speech, the winner was full of praise for his two rivals.
He said: “Fierce competition tonight. Well done to the other two athletes and everything they’ve done are massive achievements.”
For LCpl Nihell, 2018 marked the end of his amateur career as he is set to make the jump to professional status. The award gave him the opportunity to look back to the very beginning for his first boxing match.
“I was 12 years old,” he revealed. “My nerves were wrecked. I’ve had 68 bouts now. That was my first ever bout.
“That day on the fight is never a comfortable place to be. It’s just how you deal with it.
"You learn how to control your thoughts and try and channel it the right way. You always go through the worst scenario in your head.
“I have the utmost respect for anyone who gets inside that boxing ring because half the fight is getting in the ring.”
The job also gives him the opportunity to avenge the one blip of his final year, losing the Inter-Services title to The Navy.
He said: “It’s never truly success until you give it back so I’m giving back to the Army team.
“Obviously, this year was mixed emotions. I won my fight.
"We had three Army lads go through to the national OBA Championships and the Navy took the title off of us. I’ve captained the team so that title was always a big thing.
“I’m sure next year we are going to go back and get that title back to where it should be.“