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The GREAT British fighters

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FIGHTING CHANCE: Muhammad Ali is targeting Gold in Rio this summer after being announced in Team GB’s boxing squad

FIGHTING CHANCE: Muhammad Ali is targeting Gold in Rio this summer after being announced in Team GB’s boxing squad

Team GB’s boxing squad announced

A quarter of Team GB’s largest Olympic boxing squad for 32 years will be from Yorkshire as the fighters prepare to board the plane for the 2016 Rio Olympics next month.

European silver medallist Qais Ashfaq will be joined in the line-up by Keighley’s Muhammad Ali and Leeds’ 2012 Gold medallist, Nicola Adams, as they aim to conquer the international tournament.

Targeting a record medals haul in the boxing division, Ashfaq says he is ready to ‘win’ in Brazil, with gold in his sights.

GOLD STANDARD: Qais Ashfaq has been named as one of the 12 boxers heading to the Rio Olympics

GOLD STANDARD: Qais Ashfaq has been named as one of the 12 boxers heading to the Rio Olympics

“It’s all becoming ever so real now and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are just around the corner,” he said. “I’m going to be in the best shape of my life.

“I’m proud to be a part of a 12 man strong team with lads and ladies that are more like family than just team mates. Let's win these medals.”

Ashfaq will face off in the bantamweight division, whilst Ali is set to compete against the world’s top amateur flyweights.

Both fighters have enjoyed stellar careers in the senior amateur divisions and both believe gold is a very real possibility this August.

Team GB's Chef de Mission, Mark England, said: “This is the largest boxing squad we've taken to an Olympic Games since Los Angeles 1984 and demonstrates the strength this sport and our boxing programme can boast across the weight divisions.

“Team GB has a proud history in Olympic boxing and it's fantastic to see that tradition continue with this class of 2016.

“From Olympic and Commonwealth Games Champions to World and European medallists, these 12 boxers can go to Rio 2016 full of confidence and can expect to challenge with the very best on display in the ring in Brazil.”

The full list of boxers heading to Rio are: Nicola Adams – women’s flyweight; Savannah Marshall – women’s middleweight; Galal Yafai - light flyweight; Muhammad Ali – flyweight; Qais Ashfaq – bantamweight; Joe Cordina – lightweight; Pat McCormack – light welterweight; Josh Kelly – welterweight; Antony Fowler – middleweight; Joshua Buatsi – light heavyweight; Lawrence Okolie – heavyweight; Joe Joyce – super heavyweight.

Fighting for Gaza: Bringing communities together through boxing

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An enthralling night of sporting entertainment was seen at Dewsbury Town Hall last weekend as some of the region’s finest amateur boxers put up their gloves in the name of charity.

On Saturday 1st November, over 500 people gathered to watch 15 bouts, in a show which was organised by the local KBW amateur boxing club, raising funds for children affected by the Gaza conflict.

10748824_10152893076540087_17446362_n_2As well as a number of esteemed guests, 30 boxers from as far as Northampton travelled to the West Yorkshire venue to help make the night a huge success.

Shammy Cheema, co-owner of KBW, said he was delighted to see so many people turn out to support the project and explained how proud he was to see his gym continue to excel in boxing promotion events.

“We are committed to improving community cohesion and community relations through the sport of boxing, and encouraging a healthier lifestyle for the youth,” he said.

“With the help of the team which is led by Martin Bateson, who has been a pivotal role in the success of many talented boxers – including Team GB and future Olympian boxers Qais Ashfaq and Jack Bateson, we have managed to build an accomplished team of boxers and welcome all.”

The evening of entertainment began with three junior and schoolboy bouts with KBW boxers, Moqeet Rahman and Adam Shakil, both picking up victories whilst teammate, Callum Grace, was unlucky to lose out against Subhan Ahmedof.

535914_10152893077890087_3733804220570885258_n_2Brothers, Huzaifa and Ayub Khan continued their rising careers in the sport with two unanimous point’s decisions, and showed why they had received such a build-up in preparation to the night.

The following fight saw local competitor, Areeb Cheema, take on Nathan O’Shea of Bracebridge ABC. A close contest over three rounds saw the KBW man edge a split decision on the judge’s cards.

Leeds man, Kevin Pratt, took on Steffan Baxter in what was always predicted to be an aggressive fight.

Heavy blows were landed by both in the first round yet Pratt’s better conditioning and fitness saw him edge the fight in the later rounds.

Clearly landing more precise blows, the judges awarded him a majority decision in one of the highlight bouts of the night.

Rounding off the KBW fights, Saif Cheema squared off against Mitch Lisle in the headlining match-up of the night.

In what was Cheema’s first bout in his new weight category, both boxers were pushed to the limit in a close three-round affair.

Lisle, knowing he had to knockout his opponent for victory, landed a huge left hook to the jaw of his opponent, forcing the referee to administer a standing eight-count.

Adopting a defensive approach for the remainder of the fight, Cheema eventually saw off his rival as his hand was raised in victory via a split decision when the final bell rung.

During the clashes, a couple of speeches were held, beginning with Labour PPC, Paula Sheriff, who praised the sporting talent on offer during the night and the need to encourage further youth participation.

Ms Sheriff was followed by special guest, Iqbal Bhana OBE, from the Palestinian Solidarity Group, who spoke further on the plight of Palestinian people and the suffering of Gaza’s children.