Repton teenager Martin Ward takes golden glory at European Youth Championships
Repton's Martin Ward pulled off the most outstanding victory of his career to claim a European Youth gold medal in Poland
By LEN WHALEY
Repton teenager Martin Ward pulled off the most outstanding victory of his career to claim a European Youth gold medal in Poland.
Ward triumphed over the best 18-year-old boxers in Europe to clinch the top prize in Szczecin and return home as the only gold medallist in the England team.
Competing at featherweight, the youngster bounced back from his disappointing ABA title defeat in April to strike gold on Saturday with a classy display against talented Turkish boxer Bunyamin Aydin.
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Aydin, who had received a controversial decision over the Repton boxer when they clashed in Germany six weeks earlier, had swept through his qualifying bouts in impressive style.
His first two opponents registered just a single point - and the next two failed to score at all.
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But Ward, who has already been earmarked as a leading prospect for London 2012, found the answers to his difficult opponent and speared punches through the Turk's defences.
Ward's superior speed was also key as he proved too elusive for Aydin's attacks and the Turk who failed to register a single scoring punch. The Repton boxer's dominance was confirmed on the official scorecard at the final bell, which marked Ward as a 4-0 winner.
Following a bye through the opening round of the tournament, Ward recorded a 9-2 victory over tough Hungarian David Kanalas in the second round before coming through a difficult test against Moldovan rival Vasile Tuca in round three.
Semi-final opponent Elvin Alleyev, from Azerbaijan, was expected to provide a stern challenge for the Repton club hope, but Ward underlined his impressive form in the last-four encounter by completely outboxing his strong rival to earn an 8-0 victory.
"Martin gave a magnificent performance to come through a winner against such high-class opposition," said Repton senior coach Tony Burns.
"It's been a hectic year for him and now he deserves to take a break from boxing before the new campaign."
Repton schoolboy prospect Simon Baker will aim to add to his impressive collection of silverware when he boxes in the England squad at the European schoolboys championships in Russia next month.