11 year old Harry is already a boxing champion!
At 11 years of age Harry Laverick is the latest Welsh Boxing Champion to come out of the talented stable coached by Graham Brockway at Merlins Bridge Amateur Boxing Club.
Harry was awarded his coveted Welsh vest after winning his age and weight category by beating Phillip Price of the Premier ABC from Swansea, in the Welsh Novices Championships held in Cymmer - no mean feat when one considers it was only Harry's fourth contest.
In his corner was Mr Brockway himself and assistant coach Mark 'Jinks' Jenkins, and throughout the three rounds, each of one minute's duration, Harry held the edge over his strong opponent so when the referee raised his arm aloft was as the result of a unanimous decision from the three judges sitting ringside.
Family joy, celebrations – and relief as well
Afterwards, Harry was awarded his Welsh vest and as well as his delighted corner men there was also great joy for his father Gary, a serving soldier who had boxed in Sunderland as a nipper and is a level one boxing coach, plus Harry's brother Joe.
Back home there was mother Rachel, other brother Jack and sister Darcey, all of whom were overjoyed at Harry's success.
"I get very nervous indeed watching him," admitted Gary, "but nothing compared to his mum because she only watched him once and prefers now to stay at home and wait for the phone call, so her reaction is a mixture of happiness and relief!"
Someone else who later shared in the celebrations was his grandad Laverick back in the North-East, who has since sent Harry a tee shirt with 'Harry the Hammer' emblazoned on it, after watching the bout on DVD!
Butterflies swatted by Harry, Graham and Jinks
"I was really nervous on the drive up to Cymmer," said Harry "and I had even more butterflies before I got into the ring but Graham and Jinks calmed me down in the changing rooms.
"The three rounds flew by and although it seemed a long time after the final bell went that I was announced as the winner it was worth the wait."
Harry wore his Welsh vest for our mini photo-shoot but it will soon take pride of place on his bedroom wall because Gary has promised to frame it for him. He also sported a bruised nose but it is good to report Harry was able to admit it was caused at the Haverfordwest Skate Park as a result of falling off his skateboard!
High praise for coaches
Both Harry and his father are full of praise for the work of Graham Brockway and Co at Merlins Bridge, where the young boxers are really encouraged and carefully looked after.
"Harry had wanted to go to the gym for some time," Gary told us, "and when I took him for the first time he loved every second so afterwards he only wanted me to drop him off and pick him up from then on.
"At first he was only allowed to take part in the fitness side of things and was later gradually allowed to use the speed ball, the punch bags and then do some 'pad work' with ‘Jinks’.
"It was over three months before he was allowed anywhere near the ring, and then only under close supervision from a coach who was in the ring at all times, wearing protective headgear and huge gloves for his size."
A few hiccups and then a special evening
Nine months after he set out Harry was told he could have his first bout but there were a couple of hiccups because Graham wouldn't allow him to take on anyone with lots more experience or with a slight age or weight advantage.
But then came that special evening, on the club's home show at Letterston Village Hall, where he took on Macsen James from the Prizefighter Club in Swansea - and had the honour of his contest being the first of the evening in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
"I had my medical check by the doctor in the changing rooms and when I walked out and saw all the people there my heart beat faster as the announcer called out my name and the referee called me into the centre of the ring with Macsen and told us to touch gloves before the bell went.
"I really enjoyed the bout and it was brilliant to have a unanimous points win and get presented with my smashing trophy.
"When I took it home dad built a special trophy shelf for me and I put it smack in the middle, although it looked a bit lonely - but I've added two more since and I hope to have some more soon because Graham is entering me for the Welsh Junior Championships and is hoping to organise two more bouts for me before then."
High praise from coach Brockway
Ask Graham Brockway about Harry and he is quick to sing his young charge's praises.
"Harry is one of the keenest young boxers I have come across in a long time at the club and he fully deserved his first Welsh title because he is a committed trainer who is like a sponge in wanting to soak up every tip we give him.
"He is a hard hitter and has sharpened up his defensive skills for someone as young as he is - and I was very proud to be there to see him deservedly become a champion."
And finally . . .
At home Harry is careful about diet and doesn’t eat junk food - and when the whole family recently went on holiday to Lanzarote their luggage included boxing gloves and pads so that Harry could train every morning and go for a run with dad during the evenings!
Small wonder then that Harry has done so well and after his debut success he went on to beat another very talented local boxer in John Probert (Pembroke ABC) but this time on a split decision from the judges - but then had to learn the disappointment of defeat against Steven Gilheaney (Port Talbot ABC) at the Cwmgors Police Club, although his runners-up trophy also adorns his shelf with the others!
Harry Laverick is indeed a great advert for the sport of amateur boxing and we wish this modest and committed young feller continued success, but above all a real enjoyment in what he does at Merlins Bridge Amateur Boxing Club!