Paras Punch their way to Boxing Final
Teams from two Para battalions fought their way through to the final of the Army’s boxing championship. 2 PARA defeated 2 Rifles by a thumping majority of seven bouts to two in one semi-final of the Army Major Units Boxing Championship, whilst reigning champions 3 PARA beat 2 PWRR.
The boxers of 3 PARA maintained their firm grip on the Major Units Championship. In front of a passionate and vocal crowd at Colchester’s Budd VC Gymnasium, 3 PARA defeated their colleagues from 2 PARA 5-4. The thrilling 7th May contest, which was broadcast live by BFBS TV, was decided in the last round of the last bout of the night.
2 PARA started strongly to go into the interval 3-1 up. 3 PARA recovered across the heavier weight classes to see the match tied at 4-4.
In a tense contest heavyweight Pte Joe Allen won the title for 3 PARA on a majority decision, despite facing a standing count in the last round after his opponent Pte James English landed a heavy blow.
Pte Allen, said: “I felt that there was a lot of pressure on me, but the coach told me I was the better boxer and if I kept calm in the ring I would win, which I did. The competition’s been a great experience and I was really happy to win the decisive bout. I lost in last season’s final, which we won 8-1, so it was great to get rid of that ghost!”
3 PARA went into the fight as champions and have won the competition every time they have entered since 2003, and only did not compete in 2006, 2008 or 2011 because they were on operations in Afghanistan.
Head coach Cpl Ben Cunningham said: “The match was closer than I expected and I’m so proud of this victory. 2 Para were well motivated and fought really well, but our boxers don’t get into the ring to lose. Even though we were down at the interval I felt confident because I knew the boxers we had to come were big, strong guys who had fought in winning teams. It was that experience that made the difference.”
2 PARA’s head coach Cpl Rob O’Neill said: “I’m proud of the team’s performance but gutted at the result. We smashed our way to the final and have lost to the undefeated champions. 3 PARA was the only team who could beat us, because as paratroopers we share the same fitness levels and mentality. They’ve won but they know we pushed them to the limit, and no other boxing team in the Army could have done that.“
Addressing the boxers afterwards Brig Hill, Comd 16 Air Assault Brigade, drew parallels between The Parachute Regiment’s success in the ring and on operations from the Second World War to the current campaign in Afghanistan. He said: “It is a huge achievement for both teams to fight their way to the final. Boxing requires the same battle-winning qualities of fitness, self-discipline, courage and determination as are needed on operations. We can all be proud of the young soldiers who have stepped into the ring and shown us what they are made of. They possess the same qualities of their predecessors and will maintain the strong traditions and standards of The Parachute Regiment.”