Mansfield’s Nico Leivars now stands on the podium alongside the best boxers in Europe after winning a gleaming gold medal following a huge amateur boxing tournament in Ireland.
The EU’s finest boxers had gathered for the annual Monkstown Dublin International Box Cup, and boxers from various nations were staring down Nico (14) as he represented Mansfield against the best in the 51kg Open Class category.
The three-day tournament saw Nico competing at a higher weight than usual and he boxed an incredible three bouts in quick succession.
The jump in weight also meant facing bigger guys and Nico had to look up to see towering Irish champion Martin McDonacy in the quarter-final.
The All Saints School pupil was then drawn against favourite Mark Dickinson, the three times National and Tri-Nations champion from the north east of England, and in the final he faced Sean Whelan, who recently became European silver medallist.
Nico said: “It was a great experience. Boxing internationally there’s a lot more pressure, but I really enjoyed it.
“McDonacy came out swinging but I beat him with my hand speed. I wanted to box Dickinson as he’s exceptional. It was a great challenge and I stuck to our game plan and outboxed him over three rounds. Then in the final we both went for it, but I always felt in control.”
AS Plant owner Andy Sutton, whose firm sponsors Nico, jumped in his landrover with Russell Robles-Walker and headed to Ireland’s capital to watch the final.
Nico added: “I want to thank them for their incredible support.
“It was amazing to win gold. The medal is for my dad and coach Jules who gives me so much of his own time. His input has taken me to the next level. Also thanks to the ABA’s Dave Cockell for his continued support.”
Nico, currently boxing out of Spire ABC, has this season travelled to backstreet gyms and hostile venues to hunt down the top opponents and he’s beaten them all with the only blemish in 14 bouts coming in the National ABA Junior Boxing Championship semi-final where he dominated his bout but didn’t get the decision.