Ben Whittaker (Firewalker Olympic Boxing Club) and Soloman Dacres (Warley ABC) are both looking to cap a fantastic 12 months when they compete at the England Boxing Elite National Championships 2017 taking place this weekend (21-23 April 2017) at the Magna Centre in Rotherham.
Whittaker will be defending the middleweight title he won in 2016 and aims to become a two-time Elite National Champion. It will mark a successful year for the 19-year-old from Darlaston who has recently been added to GB Boxing’s elite Podium squad and now trains full-time at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
Super-heavyweight Dacres is looking to win a first Elite National Title and complete a remarkable rise to prominence for the Birmingham man who only took up boxing three years ago, aged 20. He has also been given a three-month trial with GB Boxing’s Podium squad and has recently sparred with Rio 2016 silver medallist, Joe Joyce.
Dacres said: “Last year was the first time I’ve actually competed in the Elite finals but I lost out in the semi-finals so this has got to be my year.
“Coming onto the GB Boxing programme has given me the opportunity to spar and train with boxers of a high standard, such as Joe Joyce and Frazer Clarke, so I am feeling confident. There is no-one that I am too wary of and I am ready for anyone.
“To win would mean so much to my club (Warley ABC). As far as I know, they have not had anyone win at the Elites for a long time, so it would be good for them to have a national champion as it gives the club more credibility.”
Middleweight, Whittaker, has followed a more conventional route to national prominence and has been boxing for 12 years. He won the Elite National title at the first time of asking in 2016 when he defeated Jordan Reynolds in the final at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Whittaker said: “I am preparing like I would for any tournament; I am dedicated, working hard and not cutting any corners. I have been sparring with some top level boxers, such as Antony Fowler and Olympic bronze medallist, Joshua Buatsi, so that should stand me in good stead and hopefully I will get my rewards for all of the hard work I have put in.
“At GB Boxing, we have the European and World Championships this year and the Commonwealth Games in 2018, so my aim is to win a second title and put myself in the frame to be selected to go to those events this year and next.”
Whittaker is also keen to win for his new club, Firewalker Olympic Boxing Club, which he joined recently from Wodensborough.
He explained: “It would be real good for them because it is a new club which has literally just opened up. I have trained with the coach since I was seven-years-old. I have been lucky to box for my country but it is always good to win for your club and coach as you have been with them from day one and it’s good to feel like you are giving back to them.”
A list of all the male and female boxers that are due to take part in this weekend’s Elite National Championships is available here.
156 boxers are due to take part in the Championships this weekend which will see 19 boxers crowned Champion. The men’s competition will be held over 11 weight categories as a new Cruiserweight (86kg) category has been added for 2017. The women’s competition will be held over 8 weight classes.
On Friday 21 April, the quarter-final bouts will be held from 1300 onwards with two rings in the Arena. The semi-finals will take place on Saturday from 1400.
The finals on Sunday 23 April will start at 1400. Tickets are available on the door for all three days.