Blackpool's Sharpstyle boxers top of class in national schoolboy championships

The Sharpstyle competitors and coaches at the England Boxing finals in Grantham
The Sharpstyle competitors and coaches at the England Boxing finals in Grantham

Blackpool’s Sharpstyle Boxing Club boasts a record five national schoolboy champions after an outstanding day in the ring in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Blackpool’s Sharpstyle Boxing Club boasts a record five national schoolboy champions after an outstanding day in the ring in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Five of the Bagot Street club’s six qualifiers emerged victorious in the England Boxing finals, beating the previous Blackpool record of three set by Sharpstyle in 2016, much to the delight of head coach Andy Abrol.

The five title winners were Leighton Birchall in the minors 29.5kg category, John Tom Varey at minors 31kg, Nelson Birchall at class B 38.5kg, Frank Varey at class B 41.5kg and Levi Barnes at class B 44.5kg.

The three class B winners will go forward to represent England in the Tri-nations, with an opportunity to be crowned British champion.

Sharpstyle has now produced 12 national champions since the club was formed in 2015, also winning two European silver medals and various Box Cup golds.

Leighton Birchall opened the show for Sharpstyle at Grantham Leisure Centre with a dazzling performance against Harry Penny of West Ham Boys’ ABC in east London.

After a cautious start by both first-time finalists, Birchall relaxed and launched fast combinations, upping his work rate in the second and third rounds and beating his game opponent to the punch to win on points.

Next up was John Tom Varey, who faced Musa Sheikh from Fairburn ABC in Ilford.

The southern champion was tall and boxed off the back foot, throwing fast counter-punches, but Varey attacked fast and often. The high tempo favoured the super-fit Varey and earned him the win.

Leighton’s brother Nelson Birchall climbed through the ropes to face Sammy Varey from Trowbridge ABC in Wiltshire.

It was third time lucky for Nelson, who had reached the national stages in the previous two seasons.

The relaxed Nelson put on a flawless performance in a packed stadium, picking his punches to earn a unanimous victory over a very game opponent.

Frank Varey, elder brother of John Tom, was bidding for his second national title in three years up against familiar foe John Love of Powerday Hooks ABC in west London.

Frank, who is Sharpstyle’s most laid-back and confident boxer, picked his shots with precision. And with his footwork on point, Frank was always a step ahead to take the win by unanimous decision.

Jack Dadak was up next for Sharpstyle at 43kg and faced Levi Butcher from Pinewood Starr ABC in Berkshire.

The first round was close, Jack leading off with fast combinations and Butcher counter-attacking, but Butcher’s shots were more telling and he worked his way to a close victory in an entertaining bout.

Finally, Sharpstyle’s newest member Barnes up against Mark Baker from the renowned Repton Club in east London.

Baker had reach advantage but Levi’s upper body and head movement caused his opponent problems. Barnes landed many telling shots with his powerful back hands and hooks to seal the win.

There was no rest for the glorious Blackpool boxers, who were straight back in the gym to prepare for the Monkstown International Box Cup in Dublin at the end of the month.

This event attracts more than 1,100 boxers from 20-plus countries and Sharpstyle won the award for club of the tournament last year.