Naomi Dalton - an excellent boxing coach at Merlins Bridge ABC

Naomi Dalton Naomi Dalton may never have thrown a punch in anger but she occupies a pivotal role at Merlins Bridge Amateur Boxing Club, where she not only coaches some of the younger element to the club but is a great example to the young girls who are taking up the sport and already holds a female-only training session ever Monday morning which is attracting growing numbers who use it as a means of working at their fitness levels.
She is the proud possessor of a full coaches’ licence and also serves the club as an administrator, dealing with the everyday letter writing and record-keeping – and is also entrusted with the vital role of being the club’s safeguarding officer, making sure that all who attend the club are properly looked after.

Started getting involved after being a taxi driver

Her involvement with the club came some eight years ago and started almost by accident when her elder son Ryan (now 17 years old) wanted to attend and so she used to taxi him there from the family home in Johnston and stayed to watch what was going on, rather than making a double journey.
“But head coach Graham Brockway is very persuasive,” said Naomi, “and he soon gave me the confidence to join in training and had me helping out those just starting, giving encouragement and holding the pads used so that they could learn to punch properly.

Encouraged to take her Leader’s Award

“After a while I decided to try and gain a qualification and so Graham organised for me to join Barry Frearson, Ian Roberts and Jenks in attending a Leaders’ Course under the auspices of the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
“It was arranged for a whole day at the National Sports Centre of Excellence and I must admit I felt a bit nervous but the others on the course from all over Wales were good as gold - and the instruction we had received from Graham Brockway was a marvellous help.
“We dealt with matters like Health and Safety, Safeguarding and skills like correct punching, sparring, warm-up and cool-down sessions, and at the end of the day we had to prepare a typical session, with the activities we would use.
“That was the most nerve-wracking part of a very long day but I was thrilled to be told I had passed and was proud of my certificate, which confirmed my new qualification!”

Naomi with son RyanMoving on to greater things

That was in 2018 and four years later, after lots of practice at the club’s gym in Merlins Bridge, she felt confident enough to go back to Sophia Gardens to take her Head Coaches’ Badge, which took place over two weekends.
“The WABA coaches were Martin and Luke and it was much more challenging than the previous course because it was far more skills-based in terms of techniques taught, plus lots of planning for a range of sessions as an induction course for newcomers to boxing.”
There were two consecutive weekends planned for the course but Naomi was unable to attend the second because there was unfortunately a nasty accident on the Haverfordwest by-pass where Naomi was an innocent victim which left her bruised and shaken.
“But everyone was very supportive and as soon as I had recovered the WABA arranged for me to attend the second week up in the capital, which was really rigorous.
“We had to show our ability to demonstrate techniques and create plans for training sessions alongside more in-depth study of Safeguarding Issues - and in the evenings we had to show confidence in demonstrating we could practise what they preached.
“By then I was the only female on the course and it was a thrill to learn I had passed and so could help the club even further in terms of involvement in training with all ages.”


Also helping out at Phoenix Park

Outside of her boxing involvement, Naomi is also helping out Goodwick United AFC as the club secretary for the junior section after younger son Rhys (12) needed ferrying to play there at as a left back with the club’s junior teams that are coached by Sion O’Sullivan, who also trains as a boxer at Merlins Bridge.
“I was in school with Wayne and Chris O’Sullivan in Fishguard and when I was asked to help out it was hard to say no., I also help Graham with some of the admin work at Merlins Bridge ABC, like letter writing,
“Both had been supportive alongside Graham Brockway, who was brilliant when our older son Ryan (17) was boxing regularly, and gained a bronze medal in the Welsh Box Cup at Sophia Gardens as he was the youngest competitor and just missed out on reaching the final on a split decision.
“Then Covid intervened and work commitments have caused him to stop boxing at the moment so I am the only family member involved at the club - although I am lucky to have the boys’ support, and even more so from my husband, Julian Dalton, who has given fantastic support since I am over the gym or at the football four times a week!”

New role for Naomi with the ladies and the WABA

The increase in interest for training from young girls and women resulted in Naomi starting up her Monday morning classes and the growing numbers use some boxing techniques alongside circuit training like burpees, squat thrusts, press-ups and sit-ups alongside the popular slamballs which involves using weighted ball - and although the emphasis is on fitness Naomi readily admits that if anyone wanted to try boxing as a result she wouldn’t deter them from joining the likes of Ffion Evans in doing well in the ring!
Not content with that little lot, Naomi is also now the Safeguarding Officer, not only at Merlin’s Bridge ABC but for the whole of the Western Division of the WABA,
“It means I am looking after any safeguarding issues for clubs from Aberystwyth to Llanelli and so look after issues like giving advice on issues like current filling in of DBS Forms, which everyone involved at every club must be checked in this vital safety area, especially with regard to children or vulnerable people.
“If there were any issues that crop up then I would travel to the club before passing on a report to the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association so it is a responsibly that I take very seriously,” Naomi told us.

Merlins Bridge coaches

And finally . . .

Amazingly, Naomi still finds time for her work at Maggs Optics, in Haverfordwest, where she has been employed for 21 years.
“My boss Paul, and everyone else there is always very supportive of me if I need time off for boxing and Paul is great in helping with booking a table at our dinner shows or in sponsoring bouts or local boxers.”
Ask Graham Brockway about Naomi and he is very quick to praise her.
“Naomi is a great asset of our club in every sense of the word and she is held in huge regard by everyone at Merlins Bridge - and asset and a fantastic unsung hero that glues our club together,” which is high praise indeed for someone who knows his sporting onions!
Chat to Naomi Dalton for a short while and it becomes very clear that she is very happy to sing the praises of everyone around her, especially in sport, but a plays down her own involvement - but it is very evident that although she gains real satisfaction from what she does there is no doubt that she is a credit to her sport and her clubs.
We at can only say a huge well done to Naomi and add that Merlin’s Bridge ABC in particular are very lucky to have her involved - and long may she continue to do such great work there!

Naomi with club coaches