Leonis ready to roar in New Jersey

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Eleven boxers, ten of them born in the Island, will be under the banner ‘Old Jersey, Channel Islands’ to take on New Jersey, USA at the Dover Knights Box Club in New Jersey, with head coach Dave Thompson, recently awarded an MBE for his services to boxing, saying: ‘This may be a step into the unknown for us, but I think we can hold our own.’ ‘It certainly will be tough as New Jersey is a very strong boxing area, but that and the historical links between the two areas make it all the more enthralling.’ Thompson and the Leonis coaching squad of Tony Burt, John Day, Eddie Stuart and Allan Murray have been training the Island boxers through the closed season at South Hill Gym.

Said Thompson: ‘This is just fabulous that our little club can go to America with a team of local lads – we have not had to bring in guests.’ ‘The boys have all been following the TV boxing show Contenders and it has helped create the atmosphere that makes boxing such a great sport – one man challenging another knowing that that the will to win and working hard can result, against all the odds, in a shock victory.’ ‘With New Jersey the home of Chuck Wepener, the boxer Sylvester Stallone based his Rocky film character on, the boys should be really inspired.

‘I feel it’s a great way for the club to celebrate over 50 years in boxing.’ The tie-up followed an e-mail sent to Jersey Dinner Boxing Club president Mark Dunlop in January from Rich Stoltenborg president of Dover Knights/Lake Hopatcong Club.

After calling in Leonis president Peter Green details of the trip – and a return meeting at Hotel L’Horizon in November – were confirmed; no easy task with travel, insurance and ABA permission having to be sorted out.

Hopes of taking part in two tournaments were dashed by ABA time frame regulations, so with the party arriving in New Jersey on Thursday the management will be focusing on just keeping the boxers ticking over.

The squad contains many crowd pleasers: Ben Murray, Craig Culkin and Danny Maka are all well used to topping the bill, but as Thompson insists the trip has a real ‘Jersey’ team feel to it – even Guernseyman Ollie Power has been in the Island for the past three years.

Leonis, who would be pleased to hear from anyone able to help defray the costs of the trip, are also appealing for any Jersey items that could be handed out to promote the Island in the USA.

Anyone who can help should contact Dave Thompson on 631826 or 07797 733127.

The demand for return match tickets against Dover Knights BC, at Hotel L’Horizon on Saturday 4 November, is already extremely high.

Travelling with the following boxers will be Leonis officials Peter Green, manager Kevin Baudains, coaches Dave Thompson, Eddie Stuart and Allan Murray.

Mark Dunlop also travels.

Two Leonis boxers, Elliott Kennedy and Lee Murphy have had to forego the trip because of university commitments, but they intend to keep in shape to box on their return.

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