Whitwell breaks St Ives title duck - and follows dad’s lead

ST IVES Boxing Academy has its first national champion.

ST IVES Boxing Academy has its first national champion.

Shona Whitwell, 13, became the national schoolgirl champion in the Class 1 under-50kg category with a single-point victory on Saturday.

Whitwell overcame rival Millie Morgan of Plymouth’s Victory ABC, who had beaten her in their previous meeting, to take the title at a show in Mansfield.

She follows in the footsteps of her father and coach Steve, who won the national cruiserweight championship in 1998, just weeks after his daughter was born.

After the win, the proud father – and head coach – said: “I am absolutely over the moon with the effort she put in, and her being my daughter makes it all the more special. I am very proud of her.

“We have been open for six years, and she is the first national champion for St Ives Boxing Academy and has made history for the club.

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“It’s nice to have two champions in the family, but I am pretty sure she will have a few more to follow and surpass anything I achieved in the ring.

“This has just rounded off what has been our most successful season to date and, with the quality and depth in our squad, I expect a few more titles to be coming our way over the next few seasons now we have broken our duck.”

Whitwell’s training for the bout had been interrupted by a back injury in recent weeks, but she pushed herself through the pain barrier to win.

Forced to adapt her usual long-range counter-punching by the combative Morgan, Whitwell showed she could also box on the inside.

After a slow and nervy start, Whitwell began to grow in confidence and managed to keep Morgan at bay with a snappy jab and left cross, ending the first round with a bleeding nose but an 8-6 advantage.

The second round was scrappier and Whitwell was pushed back to the ropes continually by her strong opponent, dropping a point to lead 12-11 going into the last.

In a frantic final round both boxers pushed themselves to exhaustion but Whitwell had done enough to tie the round and secure an 18-17 win overall.

Whitwell Sr said: “Shona needed a big last round to finish in front and both girls gave it their all in a very tight round. At the final bell both girls were exhausted.

“This wasn’t a fight for the fainthearted and both girls felt they had done enough to win.”

Whitwell has one show remaining before the end of the season, and has ambitions to compete in shows in Europe by the end of 2011.