Emotions were running high when Sutton boxer Nico Leivars suffered an agonising semi-final exit at the England National Amateur Championships at the weekend.
Some in the Nottingham crowd were pleased with the split-decision verdict because it favoured a fighter from the club badly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017, which killed 72 people.
John O’Meara belongs to the Dale Youth Club, which operated from a gym at Grenfell and had new premises built last year with the help of the BBC TV show, ‘DIY SOS’.
However, within the Leivars camp, they were privately seething at the controversial decision by the judges to award the three-round contest to O’Meara.
They felt the 19-year-old Mansfield Town fan had done more than enough, particularly in the first and third rounds, to win a place at finals day, which takes place in Manchester this weekend.
Instead, O’Meara went through and will face Ibrahim Nadeem, of Bury, for the right to be crowned national champion in the under-56kg weight category.
A philosophical Leivars said: “I was on the wrong end of a split decision. Good luck to both boxers in the final.”
Up to that point, everything had been going to plan for the rising star. In the pre-quarter-finals, he gained a unanimous verdict to defeat the high-ranking Lewis Southgate, of Kent, and then in the quarter-finals themselves, he produced a tremendous performance to beat Connor Holloway, of Thetford, Norfolk.
LEIVARS refused to let defeat at the national championships cloud what has been a wonderful season for the talented teenager.
“This has been my first season in the senior ranks, and what a season it has been!” Leivars beamed on his Facebook page.
“I have won two international gold medals, a national elite belt at 56kg, a King of the Ring competition in Sweden and now I am a national semi-finalist.
“A big thankyou to my coaches, Sab Leo and my dad, Julian Leivars, and thanks to everyone for their continuous support.
“Thnanks to everyone who came to watch me at the national championships in Nottingham, and everyone else who saw the fights live on YouTube. I appreciate the support.”
Many of those fans agreed that Leivars was unlucky to bow out to a split decision in the semis. One, Laura Hemmings, posted: “Totally robbed, but good on you for being respectable and showing sportsmanship.”
The 19-year-old trains with his dad at the Quarry Lane Boxing Club in Mansfield but boxes for the renowned Hoddesdon Academy in Hertfordshire.