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From Russia with gloves

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SILVER SUCCESS: Harris Akbar clinched silver in the EUBC European Youth Championships in Russia

SILVER SUCCESS: Harris Akbar clinched silver in the EUBC European Youth Championships in Russia

Bradford boxer lands silver medal in European championships

Harris Akbar’s rise in the world of boxing shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, with the Bradford competitor clinching his latest accolade in Russia last week.

The 17-year-old, from Bradford, returned from the 2016 EUBC European Youth Championships with a silver medal following a number of strong performances.

It was the Bradford College and Police ABC boxer's fifth bout in a tough tournament that eventually proved his downfall, as he lost out to a Russian boxer in the final.

Until then, Akbar had reinforced his credentials as an international athlete with a string of comprehensive wins, registering all unanimous points’ victories.

However, competing on Russian soil against a Russian opponent is always going to be a tough task for any Brit, and Akbar knows he may have come away with a different shade of medal has he fought elsewhere.

RISING STAR: Harris qualified for the European Championships following victory in the nationals

RISING STAR: Harris qualified for the European Championships following victory in the nationals

Speaking of the tournament, he said: “All my fights were against top opponents and I managed to win four out of five. I felt great in all of them and was confident going into the final.

“In any other country I think I’d of been coming home with the Gold but it’s all experience at the end of the day.  

“A lot of people will have seen the fight in a different way than the judges.”

Next month Harris will travel to the States to compete in the Ringside Championships yet a return to Russia is also just around the corner as the Worlds return this winter.

“I am so determined to win gold when I go back [to Russia],” he added. “I know I can do it and will just continue to work hard towards my goals.”

Harris qualified for the Euros by winning the Nationals and followed that up with victories in Ukraine and the Great Britain Championships.

TIPPED FOR THE TOP: Harris’ coach, Mally MacIver, predicts a bright future for the teen talent

TIPPED FOR THE TOP: Harris’ coach, Mally MacIver, predicts a bright future for the teen talent

His coach, Mally MacIver, says it is the local fighter’s ‘commitment to the sport’ that has helped him excel so far so early in his boxing career.

“He’s a brilliant boxer and fantastic to train,” the proud coach said. “He certainly has a big future ahead of him.

“To win a silver in Russia is a fantastic achievement, especially considering that boxing a Russian in Russia can be more corrupt than judging in the Eurovision Song contest.

“Everybody thought he should have won gold but silver is still fantastic.”

CHAMPION5: 5-Star All-Stars are national champs

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TRIUMPHANT: The Palestine All-Stars team clinched the national title last month after defeating the nation’s best five-a-side teams. Team pic includes: Adam Zaman, Anees Younis, Aadam Chhibda, Abdullah Mayat, Muhammad Omar, Aamir Aswat, Rafaqat Hussain, and Youssef Elmanea.

TRIUMPHANT: The Palestine All-Stars team clinched the national title last month after defeating the nation’s best five-a-side teams. Team pic includes: Adam Zaman, Anees Younis, Aadam Chhibda, Abdullah Mayat, Muhammad Omar, Aamir Aswat, Rafaqat Hussain, and Youssef Elmanea.

A five-a-side team from Kirklees showcased their skills to the rest of the country last week as they won a nationwide competition held at England’s training base.

Palestine All-Stars, made up mostly of students from Dewsbury and Batley, qualified for the StreetGames Football Pools Fives national championship after success in their regional contest.

Competing at St George’s Park, in Burton-upon-Trent, the local team came up against squads from up and down the country, kicking off the competition against the Scottish representatives - Summerston.

Despite a humbling defeat, the All-Stars bounced back to qualify from their group and advance into the knockout stages and eventually made it all the way to the final.

As fate would have it, the North-East representatives were once again drawn up against Summerston and with the national title just one win away, a close encounter was always expected.

Eventually winning 2-1 in the final, the All-Stars, claimed the prestigious trophy ahead of the 11 other regional teams who had qualified for the finals.

SKILLS: Abdullah Mayat runs with the ball as the All-Stars progress in the tournament.

SKILLS: Abdullah Mayat runs with the ball as the All-Stars progress in the tournament.

Team representative, Adam Zaman, from Dewsbury, said he was delighted to lift the trophy following an ‘amazing experience’.

“We had initially qualified for the tournament after winning the North-East regional competition and so were invited to the national championships last month,” he said.

“The experience there was one I’m sure none of us will ever forget.

“As well as having the chance to play against some of the country’s top five-a-side teams at St George’s Park, we also met former England manager, Graham Taylor, and Under-21 manager, Gareth Southgate, which was fantastic.”

Going into the final, Zaman added that the whole team wanted to bounce back with a win, following an opening game defeat, and did just that to lift the trophy.

“We knew what we were up against when playing the Scottish team in the final,” he continued.

“They had beaten us in the first game which made us even more motivated to show what we can do, so when we won, it was just crazy.”

Gareth Southgate, national ambassador for the StreetGames Football Pools Fives, praised the standard of football on show throughout the tournament.

Before the final he said: “If the standard of the football so far is anything to go by then this should be an absolutely fantastic final – and what better place to hold it than at the amazing facilities at St George’s Park.

“This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of the competitors to show what they can do in the same place where England’s very best train for their international duties.”

Despite their success in the five-a-side game, many members of the All-Stars team are now competing in 11-a-side competitions locally in Kirklees.