A student from Rossett School in Harrogate has been named the Yorkshire amateur heavyweight champion after triumphing at a tournament in Doncaster.
PJ Stubbs, 18, started boxing aged 14 – but his career was thwarted at an early stage when he dislocated his hip in a skiing accident.
A year later, he was back in the ring as a member of Harrogate Boxing Club, based in Starbeck.
PJ said: “My dad has always encouraged me to try boxing, because he thinks it’s important to be able to handle yourself.
“When I was younger, I did karate until I became a black belt, then I tried various other martial arts. I’ve always watched boxing and so has my dad, and I loved it as soon as I tried it.”
The championship match was a tough one for PJ, not least because his training was hardly ideal.
PJ said: “About two or three weeks before, I had a show at the Royal Hall (in Harrogate) and that was a real battering for me.
“I took a bit of time off from my training and then I got a call from my coach. She said the championship belt was open to me because two others had pulled out.
“I was willing to fight, but I hadn’t been following my usual training pattern. Also, I hadn’t competed at three in three – three rounds of three minutes – before. I found it really nerve wracking, not least because the guy I was fighting was 28.
“I’ve had some really hard hitters in the past, but this guy hit me once and I just lost vision in my left eye. It’s the hardest fight I’ve ever had.”
Despite the match being on home turf for defending champion Andrew Anthony, PJ had support from his parents, his girlfriend and many friends, which helped to spur him on against his experienced opponent. In the end, the result was a split decision, and PJ was named as champion – which left him completely shocked.
“The guy had been knocking people out left, right and centre,” he said of his opponent. “I didn’t know what to do – I thought I should apologise for taking the belt from him!”
Harrogate Boxing Club coach Jon Lewis said: “It was the best boxing fight I have ever seen in my life, there was a standing ovation from the whole crowd afterwards.
“PJ’s opponent looked like Mike Tyson. His arms were as big as my leg. I thought he was going to batter him. But it was the best fight PJ has ever had. He was unbelievable.”
PJ is now planning to have a rest while he decides what to do next. He will focus on the upcoming exams for his BTEC in sport at Rossett School and may decide to try his hand at a different sport in the future.
Rossett’s director of sports studies, Mark Fenton, said: “We’re incredibly proud of PJ and the hard work he has put in to winning this title
“It has taken a lot of discipline for him to achieve this result while also working towards his exams and it reflects very well on his character that he has been so successful. I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of his success in the boxing ring.”