Boxer Alice Pumphrey is Blackpool's first female national champion in title-winning Sharpstyle quartet

An amateur from Blackpool’s Sharpstyle Boxing Club has made history by becoming the town’s first ever female national champion.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 2:32 pm
Sharpstyle's latest national champions (from left) Alice Pumphrey, Leighton Birchall, Thomas Varey and John Tom Varey.

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It capped off another hugely successful tournament for the Bagot Street club, whose four entrants all claimed victories.

John Tom Varey, Thomas Varey and Leighton Birchall all joined Alice in winning their respective weight categories.

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Saturday was semi-finals day and saw all four boxers compete against the best in the country.

First up for Sharpstyle was last year’s minors national champion John Tom Varey up against Edward Penfold, of West Ham ABC, in the 32kg division.

Varey’s all-out aggression earned him an unanimous win, putting him through to Sunday’s final.

Next up was Birchall, also last year’s minors national champion, at 34kg against John Lee from Darlington ABC.

The bout was a close affair, with neither boxer over committing, but Leighton’s hand was raised by split decision.

Next up was Sharpstyle’s solo female Pumphrey in the 48kg division against Lyla Workman from Newark ABC.

Alice started the first round charging forward, dominating her opponent with combinations to head and body, and after giving her opponent two standing counts in the second round the fight was called off, Alice winning via knockout.

Last up was Thomas Varey in the 38.5kg class. He was up against Conner Mitchell, son of former world title challenger Kevin Mitchell, from West Ham ABC.

Thomas won with a unanimous decision but had to be on the top of his game as his opponent pushed him all the way.

John Tom Varey got the finals session on Sunday under way against Joe Padgett from Sunderland ABC.

Padgett was a come-forward aggressive boxer, which suited Varey just fine as it made for a thrilling final.

Varey’s neat step -uts and judgement of range was the difference and he came away with a unanimous victory for his second national title.

Birchall was up next boxing Martin Doran from Ferndown ABC, Dorset. Leighton turned on the style in his final, with fast sharp counters and neat footwork to claim his second national title on points.

Alice Pumphrey was hoping to make boxing history in the town, hoping to be the first female national amateur champion and she didn’t disappoint.

Her game opponent Tayla Spooner, from Warley ABC, came to fight and met Alice head on in the centre of the ring, but she was soon retreating when the hard-hitting Sharpstyle boxer unleashed wave after wave of power punches to earn an unanimous decision.

Last up was Thomas Varey boxing against Pinewood Starr’s (Berkshire) Paddy Ward. It was a very close bout ,with both boxers throwing flurry of punches and boxing on the back and front foot, but it was Thomas’ hand raised following a split decision win.

Sharpstyle head coach Andy Abrol said: “This young team of boxers never cease to amaze me.

“They continue to break records and the progress from each boxer is phenomenal.

“Our little club from Blackpool had the best win ratio in the whole of England – four entries and four wins.

“And the icing on the cake was Alice becoming the town’s first ever female national champion.

“Alice was contracted with Manchester United and looked to have a promising future in football.

“Her dad John brought her to the gym last year for extra fitness and she fell in love with the sport. She is one of the most dedicated boxers we have in the gym.

“Thomas Varey will now compete in the Tri-Nations early June and he’s hoping to do well in the selection process for the European Championships in Georgia mid-July.”

Sharpstyle’s season is far from over as Jake Abrol and Frank Varey both fly out to Romania this week to compete in the Junior European Championships.