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Chalkstone Amateur Boxing Club coach Wayne Pilgrim waxes lyrical over Mackenzie Akehurst victory in National Junior Championships Final

Chalkstone Amateur Boxing Club coach Wayne Pilgrim claimed that Mackenzie Akehurst’s performance in the Amateur Boxing Alliance (ABA) National Junior Championships Final was the best he has seen from anyone at the club.

The 16-year-old, competing in the Class B Under-50kg class, was victorious against Jayden Owen of Haddenham & Ely Boxing Club by unanimous decision to help him claim the title in Hayes on Sunday.

“It was brilliant, we’re all very proud,” said Pilgrim.

Coaches Wayne Pilgrim (left) and Terry Unwin (right) after Mackenzie Akehurst (middle) became a national champion Picture: Chalkstone Amateur Boxing Club
Coaches Wayne Pilgrim (left) and Terry Unwin (right) after Mackenzie Akehurst (middle) became a national champion Picture: Chalkstone Amateur Boxing Club

“We’ve had a lot of good performances this season, really high-level performances, but if you said ‘could he go one better?’ I would have said ‘no, no chance’. But he really did up his game, he was absolutely fantastic.

“It is without a doubt his best performance. There were 26 fights and we got pulled over by another club’s coach, who said ‘that’s by far the best display of boxing we’ll see today’ which is a huge credit to the lad. It was really nice to hear.

“There are not enough superlatives in the world to describe how wonderful that lad has been.

“The last 18 months he’s had it difficult but he’s been incredibly resilient and focused. He lives and breathes boxing and that display just capped it all off.”

Akehurst becomes Chalkstone’s second national champion since they formed their younger squad just two-and-a-half years ago. Frank Pett was their maiden national champion in November 2022 in the same competition.

Pilgrim stated the club is ‘100 per cent going in the right direction’ since developing two national champions in such a short space of time.

After he celebrated with a trip to McDonalds on Sunday, Pilgrim admitted that Akehurst was set to be back in the gym this week, which is testament to his hunger and desire, and hopes the boxer can defend his title next year, as well as compete in other exciting events.

“The Amateur Boxing Alliance is starting to branch out internationally,” said Pilgrim.

“All the big wigs were there on Sunday, hopefully he’s (Akehurst) caught the attention of one or two eyes and you never know, he could be one of our representatives abroad somewhere.

“I could see how much it meant to him and that reflects on everybody else. He’s one of a kind.

“He’s over the moon as is everyone, and everyone is happy for him.”