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Clonard duo set to live their American dream

Jamie Graham (left) will take on Amrican opposition at the Europa Hotel on August 23, while Bernard Agnew (right) travels to Detroit and Cincinnati as part of the Bridges Beyond Boxing team early next month Jamie Graham (left) will take on Amrican opposition at the Europa Hotel on August 23, while Bernard Agnew (right) travels to Detroit and Cincinnati as part of the Bridges Beyond Boxing team early next month
By David Mohan

TWO young Clonard boxers will get their chance to shine on the international stage in the coming weeks when they take on opposition from the USA at home and across the pond.

Jamie Graham has been chosen for an Ardoyne Boxing Club Select that will face a travelling team from the United States at the Europa Hotel on August 23, while Bernard Agnew will travel to Detroit and Cincinnati as part of a Bridges Beyond Boxing team next month.

A current County Antrim champion, 12 year-old Jamie will box at 35kg and will hope to shine in order to box i the States next year.

“It’s a great opportunity for him and that’s the kind of thing you want to be involved in,” said club coach Peter Graham.

“You always see down the line some of those American kids go onto be really successful and you can always look back and say ‘I boxed him’.

“He has been training hard and sparring away over the last few weeks so he is ready for it.”

While the buzz of international competition is obviously a huge attraction, it also affords an opportunity to develop given the different styles they will encounter.

“You find that a lot of the Americans are quite flat-footed and fight like pros, so we have been working on that style in the pros,” added Peter.

“Both of them are buzzing and training hard.”

In early September, it will be the turn of 15 year-old Bernard who will enjoy a two-week trip with a pair of fights lined up at 66kg.

Having risen through the ranks at the club over the past number of years, Graham believes his man is ready to stake a claim on the international stage with this away trip helping him gain valuable experience ahead of what could be a huge 2020.

“He goes with Bridges Beyond Boxing that has been running for a number of years so it’s a brilliant opportunity for him,” reports Peter.

“It’s great if they can go there and do well because a win over there can be massive.

“Next year there is the Commonwealth Youth Games, so he can start pushing towards that.

“He is a strong kid and has been with us from he was about eight or nine, so he has done very.”

Both Jamie and Bernard are the latest in a line of boxers at Clonard who have emerged in recent years as the club continues to grow.

Their new gym in Beechmount has proved to be a massive shot in the arm as numbers are up and that in itself has helped develop its fighters given the competition in the gym as they drive one another on.

“We are flying at the minute,” Graham agreed.

“It’s been about 16 years since we reopened and as the years have gone on, we have been getting better and attract girls now too.

“When we turn up at championships, we have in the region of 18 or 20 boxers each time, so we have a great squad at the minute.

“There was a young boxer there, Conor Quinn, who all the kids look up to as he has achieved great things and is pushing to qualify for the Olympics next year.

“It’s like a conveyor belt in the club where ones leave and there is another batch ready to come in, so we are going really well at the minute.”

As the younger members see their peers reach international competition, that has created an added buzz as all raise their game to join them at the next level.

The gym will soon be a hive of activity again as its members filter back after the summer break with competitions to come although for Jamie and Bernard, the hard work is long underway.

“Once the kids see someone doing well or are going to America, they all start thinking that they want to go too and they can if they train hard and work their way up,” Peter explained.

“The kids all come back into the club after the summer break in August or September and the competitions start soon after, so they’re all buzzing.

“Jamie and Bernard have been training away over the summer because of these competitions against America and they are in good shape for them.”

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