Boxing: National champion Milli Hansen fulfils a five-year promise
MILLI Hansen's national amateur boxing title triumph was a big cause for festive cheer at Grimsby Boxing Academy – particularly for her coach Andy Cox.
The 13-year-old's Amateur Boxing Association of England National Championship Under-54kg victory last month fulfilled an ambitious target set by the Grimsby trainer.
Upon launching his coaching career, when he founded Scartho Amateur Boxing Club in August 2008, Cox vowed to produce a national ABA champion inside five years.
The coach, who later relocated to launch the current GBA stable in Church Street, admitted he was preparing to eat his words.
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But up-stepped Hansen, who joined GBA as a beginner four years ago, to bag national glory by out-pointing previously unbeaten Portsmouth puncher Shanay Bennett at the Female ABAE Championships, in Cannock.
"I got a lot of stick for saying that – people said I had no chance," said Cox.
"Next year, the five years was up.
"It didn't look I was going to do it but thanks to Milli, I have."
In a successful year for GBA, Dan Machin was crowned the gym's first East Midlands Regional title winner in the class B section, for boxers who have fought between 11 and 20 bouts.
The 20-year-old beat Ash Lorjitkul, from Leicester's Heart of England ABC, in a 60kg lightweight showdown, in Mansfield.
Former GBA competitor Nathan Iley, a three-time Notts & Lincs amateur title winner, had previously twice mounted unsuccessful challenges for the East Midlands honour.
The gym has also won five gold medals overseas in amateur multi-nations Box Cup events, along with two silvers.
"Dan becoming the first East Midlands Regional champion is quite an achievement," said Cox.
"We've also had some really good shows at home – our boxers had 15 wins and three defeats.
"But Milli's achievement means a lot, particularly because she joined GBA as a total beginner four years ago.
"She's still only 13. She has impressed a Great Britain coach and was selected for an England training camp. If she stays as dedicated, who knows what she can achieve in another four years?"
The coach added: "I believe that success breeds success and I have a lot of confidence in the squad we've got."
GBA is already gearing up for action in the New Year.
Hansen returns to the ring later this month for a multi-nations tournament in Sweden, along with 21-year-old club-mate Kirsty Hill – a former Tyne, Tees and Wear women's lightweight champion.
Machin, a student at Grimsby Institute, will bid for title glory at GBA's next home show, on Friday, February 1, at the Beachcomber, Humberston.
He will take on Stamford boxer Muhammed Hassan for the vacant Notts & Lincs lightweight belt.
National champion Hansen will make her homecoming among 13 other bouts scheduled to include Grimsby fighters.
The show will feature two more area title bouts, involving boxers from elsewhere.