Haringey Box Cup returns to Alexandra Palace - and the ninth edition will be ‘the best one ever’

Kingsley Okolie will captain the Haringey Police ABC team. Pic: Dieter Perry

Kingsley Okolie will captain the Haringey Police ABC team. Pic: Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

The Haringey Box Cup returns to Alexandra Palace this week – and the ninth edition is set to be “the best one ever”, according to the founder of the host club, Gerry Willmott MBE.

Europe’s largest open boxing tournament gets under way tomorrow (Friday), with fighters from around the continent locking horns over three days.

There will be 500 male and female competitors – 100 more than last year – and there will now be five rings, an increase on previous events, as the competition’s reputation continues to grow.

“It will be the best one ever,” said Willmott, who founded Haringey Police ABC in 1999. “We’ve raised the levels and all the novices are out now, so all the levels have gone up and the standard’s better.

“We’re at the maximum – administration-wise, we physically can’t do any more than we can now, so this is the most we’ll ever have.”

Haringey have lost their top two female fighters, with Oriance Lungu – who won the Box Cup title in 2013 and 2014 – quitting the sport and Deayandra Allen being ruled out by an elbow injury.

But Candice Ayrey – who Willmott describes as being “aggressive and relentless” – will represent the club’s female section at 60kg, while Kingsley Okolie will captain the Haringey team at the Box Cup once again.

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Willmott is also looking forward to seeing two new recruits showcasing their talents, with Stephen Makoko (60kg) and Numan Hussein (64kg) completing Haringey’s quartet.

“Stephen has only had five bouts but he’s very good,” said Willmott. “He’s very dedicated, very committed and he’s very advanced for what he should be, given the number of fights he’s had.

“He’s at the bottom of his group but he should do quite well. He could be a surprise package, especially at 60kg. He’ll be strong there because he’s boxed at 63kg before.

“Numan had a couple of fights with us and won them. He’s come from a white collar background but he’s decided he wants to do amateur boxing now. He’s quite good – he’s skilful and he’s fit – so we’re expecting he could do quite well as well.”

Last year the Box Cup was televised on London Live but, this time, fans of the sport will have to watch the action in person.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Willmott. “It’s good to be on the telly but it keeps people away so we’ll see how it goes this year.

“We’re going to try to sort something out for next year, for the 10th anniversary. We’re working on that already.”

Around 2,000 children will attend a youth day today, along with Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, while the Box Cup will begin in earnest tomorrow, with the finals taking place on Sunday.

Spectators can pay on the door, with tickets costing £15 for one day or £30 for all three days, or they can visit www.alexandrapalace.com.