A gold medal for Bradford’s Harris Akbar capped an exceptional week for GB Boxing at the EUBC European Boxing Championships in Yerevan, Armenia as the team secured eight medals.
Akbar’s victory over GB Boxing squad mate, Garan Croft, in the light-middleweight division, emulated the achievements of Luke Campbell in 2008 and Peter McGrail in 2017 and makes him only the third Englishman since 1961 to be crowned European Champion.
It was the highpoint of a tremendous week for GB Boxing, which saw boxers from England, Scotland and Wales secure, one gold, three silvers and four bronze medals.
Four members of the GB Boxing squad were in action on the final day of the tournament, however Akbar was the only one to emerge with gold as flyweight, Kiaran MacDonald, and middleweight, Lewis Richardson, joined Wales’s Garan Croft in having to settle for silver medals.
It ended a memorable week in Armenia’s capital which has seen GB Boxers compete in 39 bouts across the week-long tournament and win 25 of them to secure an eight medal haul.
Akbar said: “It’s amazing. I can’t put this into words. This is my first time in a European final and the first at senior elite level.
“I’d just like to thank everyone. Everyone who has supported me, coached me or couldn’t be here today. It’s because of you that I’m here today and the reason I’ll have a gold medal hanging from my neck.
“He’s (Garan Croft) an immense fighter and this shows you what GB Boxing is all about. We are two of the best in Europe and it goes to show how elite our boxers (in the GB Boxing squad) are. I am over the moon. I just can’t wait for it to properly settle in when I’m back home. Then I’ll know how buzzing I really am.”
For Wales’ Garan Croft it brings an end to an impressive tournament that was seen him compete in the most bouts of any GB boxer this week (five) and despite not walking away with gold, he has now earned silver medals at both the senior and U22 European Championships in the same year.
On the concluding day of action in Armenia, Kiaran MacDonald was the first boxer from Great Britain to step into the ring.
He faced Spain’s Martin Molina in the flyweight contest and had to settle for silver when he was beaten via unanimous decision.
It brought to an end impressive tournament for the Sunderland man which has seen him secure three victories in four bouts on his way earning his silver medal.
Middleweight Lewis Richardson was the final boxer from the squad to compete at this year’s European Championships when he took on Gabriel Dossen of Ireland.
In a tight affair that could have gone another way it was the Irishman who claimed the gold via unanimous points decision meaning Richardson will leave the tournament with silver.
GB Boxing’s Performance Director, Rob McCracken, said: “It has been a fantastic week with lots of positives for the team. To come away with eight medals, one gold and three silver, is a fantastic effort by the boxers and all of the coaches and support staff that have helped them in achieving their goals.
“There have been some brilliant performances throughout the competition against a high level of opponent and the boxers will have learned a lot and gained valuable experience from these championships which will only help them to improve looking forward.
“These results, at an early stage in the cycle, put us in a good position for the rest of the year as we look forward to helping them get more experience ahead of the Olympic qualification campaign for Paris that will get underway next year.”
Four boxers from Great Britain earned bronze medals at the European Championships. They were welterweight Ioan Croft, middleweight Sam Hickey, heavyweight, Lewis Williams, and super-heavyweight, Delicious Orie.
Wales’ Jake Dodd and Taylor Bevan, Scotland’s Reese Lynch and England’s Niall Farrell, Joe Tyers, and George Crotty also competed but did not reach the medal stages.