Itauma wins youth ABA title
16 year old St Marys boxer Karol Itauma travelled up to Rotherham in Yorkshire on Thursday evening with his coaches Jerome Xavier and Dan Woledge snr; with his eyes set on the National Youth under 81kg title. However, it wasn’t going to be easy as he knew he would have to box several times to win the belt. The weigh in and draw was done on Friday morning and sure enough Itauma was pitted against the oldest and most experienced rival in the quarter final, with the other boxers receiving walkovers through to the semi finals. So the stage was set, if the Chatham based Itauma was going to win the title, he would have to do it the hard way. His quarter final opponent was England International B.Jarvis (Redcar ABC, Middlesborough)it was close for the first round as the barrel chested Jarvis looked to wear down the younger Itauma with a high workrate. However, after edging the first round Karols fitness proved vital as he was able to maintain the high workrate to pull away from his stocky opponent. A badly bloodied nose didn’t help the North Eastern champions cause and rounds two and three were clearly Itaumas, for a unanimous points win to book his place in Saturdays semi final.
The semi final saw Karol up against the North West regional champion K. Jackson (Northside ABC, Manchester) who was also nearly 2 years older than the Chatham based youngester. The hard punching Jackson landed some good single punches through the guard to give Itauma something to think about in the first round. However, Jackson couldn’t live with the speed and workrate of Itauma, who forced a standing count in the 3rd round and it was only Jacksons toughness that saw him through the bout before losing unanimously on points.
Having to be disciplined with his eating as he had to make weight for the third day in a row or the final could have taken its toll. Added to that, Itauma was up against the strong Western counties champion N. Marshall, who had breezed through his semi final the day before. The first round started tense, with Marshall trying to take the bout to the Chatham youngster and Itauma slightly out of range with some of his power punches. However, from the 2nd round onwards Karol found another gear and started peppering Marshall with combinations to head and body. The brave Marshall kept coming and made it through the round. With Karol now in the driving seat, he could have been forgiven for coasting through the final round. However, after blooding Marshalls nose, Karol smelt blood and went through the gears slipping shots before coming back with hurtful combinations. The referee handed out a standing count and when Ituama was soon landing at will again, the referee gave another count and rescued the brave Marshall in the final round. After 3 wins in 3 days and 5 wins in the competition in the last 3 weeks, Karol was chuffed to be carrying the belt back down the M1 back to Chatham on Sunday night.
Dan Woledge and I are so pleased with Karol, the sign of a serious talent is when a boxer goes through the gears when they can afford to sit back, Karol showed he has that extra something in his locker. His sheer athleticism, speed and technical ability won him the bouts, he doesn’t rely on raw strength and power like a lot of his opponents. The thing that makes him a special talent though is his work ethic, dedication and being coachable. He always attends extra sessions and when you advise him on which combination to throw during a bout, you can often literally see him throwing those combinations straight afterwards. He is such a polite boy and helps out coaching younger children St Marys beginners class on Saturday mornings. Everyone at St Marys are so proud of him and his achievements so far. As long as he stays the same, keeps working hard and keeps his feet on the ground, he could have a big future ahead of him.
Head England coaches were commenting on his listening to instructions and have invited Karol to a selection camp in Sheffield for the Commonwealth youth games in three weeks. If successful, he could be on a plane to the Bahamas in July. Next guaranteed bout for Ituama is the three nations championships at the start of April, where he will again be looking to strike Gold like last year. This time against an older age group though, so wont be clear cut. However, Karol is fast proving there could be some substance behind the old adage that ‘If you’re good enough, your old enough’!
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