Burns chases further honours with Repton

PUBLISHED: 10:45 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:56 05 October 2010

Days after receiving an MBE for his services to boxing in the East End, Repton chief coach Tony Burns will be looking for more honours at the North East London championships

By Len Whaley and Phil Ravitz

Just days after receiving an MBE for his services to boxing in the East End, Repton chief coach Tony Burns will be looking for more honours when the club's local schoolboy hopes begin the 2009 national title trail at the North East London championships on Saturday.

Burns, one of the doyens of the amateur boxing world in East London, was named in the New Year's honours list for "voluntary services to sport" in recognition of his 40 years of coaching at the Bethnal Green club, which has become known as the home of champions under his guidance.

Having boxed for the club as a featherweight during the 1950s, Burns has helped train 250 national champions and has sent 10 fighters to the Olympics.

He has attended the Games on seven occasions, including the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when Audley Harrison was crowned super-heavyweight champion.

His first Olympics was in Mexico in 1968 when he was in the corner of Repton great John H Stracey, the Bethnal Green fighter who turned pro the year after and went on to become the welterweight world champion.

The 68-year-old was also in Munich in 1972 with Maurice Hope and was present in Beijing last summer with current Repton youngster and London 2012 hopeful Martin Ward.

Repton will hope to add further names to their roll-call of title winners at the North East Championships, which will be staged at the Five Star boxing club in Harold Hill, Romford.

But the club's young hopefuls will have to overcome a high level of competition, with a high standard of talent on parade at the tournament.

The Bethnal Green club can list around 16 likely starters looking to impress at the event in a powerful squad featuring reigning champion Mark Baker and his brother Simon, who was runner-up last year.

Danny Arnold, another 2008 title winner, and finalist Perry Lovejoy are also due to take part.

The club's conveyor belt of top prospects has always produced some young talent worth watching, and this year's group includes classy kid Obie Coates.

But Repton will not have things all their own way, with top rivals West Ham naming around a dozen bright prospects, including several national title winners aiming to add to their impressive trophy collections in the 2009 competition.

Reigning national champions Alfie Price, Tom Beaney and Simon Driscoll will be wearing the Hammers colours in the Class Three section.

Also chasing honours in the schools competition will be some bright young prospects from the Newham gym, including Bow boxer Des Johnson, the nephew of former pro boxer Henry Johnson.

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