Junior Championships 2021 preview: The Female Under 54kg Junior contenders

October 28, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


Emily Whitworth is a young boxer on a mission… to raise a national title belt for her terminally ill dad.

The 16-year-old from the People’s Gym in Heywood, situated between Bury and Rochdale, has always wanted to win when she steps through the ropes, as two previous national title wins for previous club Middlewood Select attest.

But the deteriorating health due to cancer of proud father Danny, who corners her bouts alongside Head Coach Kieran Farrell, has never made her will to succeed so strong.

Her determination has already been underlined in the lead into the semi-final stages of these England Boxing National Junior Championships 2021 when she overcame Alice Pumphrey, winner of the European Schools and England Boxing National Schools Championships titles in 2019, to clinch the North West title.

Now she has her sights firmly set on going all the way at the Hereford Sixth Form College, where she will need to win two more bouts to lift the Junior Female Under 54kg belt.

“With her dad having terminal cancer, winning this title would mean so much to Emily if she could so it,” said Farrell, who won 14 out of 15 contests at lightweight as a professional.

“It was a fantastic boost for her to beat Alice and it was really good for her dad to see that, but she is hoping that is just the start.

“Everyone will look at her now as the one to beat, but I’m not putting too much pressure on her. She puts pressure on herself anyway, because she wants to succeed and do well.

“But there’s no doubt her dad has given her extra motivation. I’ve given her a documentary of Oscar de la Hoya to watch that shows why he got the nickname Golden Boy.

“It was because he wanted to win a gold medal at the Olympics for his mum, who had terminal cancer. Now she wants to do the same.

“Thankfully, Danny is bearing up pretty well at the moment and he will be there in the corner as a qualified coach with me and her. Emily hopes to make it a great weekend for him.”

Lining up against Whitworth will be Downend and Western Counties’ Alexa Smith, who travels in from Wiltshire for her training.

She has boxed overseas, including at the Golden Girl Championships in Sweden and is looking forward to the challenge of taking on a well-fancied opponent.

Head Coach Craig Turner said: “She came to us when she was 13 and she’s got in quite a lot of experience since then.

“She comes in three times a week to work with us and she is hugely committed, as well as having a strong personality and being very determined.

“Alexa likes to be an aggressive boxer and come forward. She knows that the girl she is going in with is experienced and it will be tough, but she wants to go up and test herself against the best.

“We’ve also got Ethan Moore going for the club, so we’re looking forward to the occasion and an enjoyable weekend.”

As someone who hopes to go on to study medicine at Oxford University, Amy Nolan, of Stafford club The Right Stuff, has the intelligence to go alongside her talents as an athlete and boxer.

She hopes to use her brain and brawn to good effect in the ring, where her ability to outthink opponents has served her well in the past.

“I consider Amy to be the best female boxer I have trained,” said coach Andy Whitehall. “It’s been her ability to adapt and progress quickly that has marked her out.

“She is a thinking boxer, but was also a good level gymnast before coming to boxing, meaning she is physically strong and fit too.”

With experience in the Odivelas and Golden Girls events overseas, Nolan, who has British and Korean parents and an Irish grandfather, has so far clocked up 22 bouts, winning 16 and losing six.

She has prepared by sparring, among others, England Boxing National Youth Championships 2020 winner Holly Heffron.

“Amy has boxed Emily (Whitworth) before and lost on a close split decision, but both girls have improved since then, but she obviously has a semi-final to take care of first before she can even look at that bout.

“But she is desperate to become a national champion and move to that next level… she would love to be in the GB squad one day.”

Facing Nolan in the semi-finals will be Burton Park boxer Lauren Mackie, who is hoping to be the latest member of the Midlands club to taste success.

Since formation in 2011 the club has developed nine different winners of National Championships, including, Elijah Smith and Gary Siggery, who won at the England Boxing National Schools Championships 2021 in September.

Burton Park also boasts 2019 European Schools champion Ellis Panter among its ranks, and he will also be in Hereford looking to add to his silverware.

“Lauren’s been training for about four years now and we rate her very highly and is one of three we have going this weekend,” said Head Coach Wayne Sharp.

“She’s one of a number of extremely talented kids to have walked through our doors – and she’s very dedicated and fit too. Even during the Pandemic, she was training throughout. When we weren’t in the gym and updating on the WhatsApp group what she was doing.

“Lauren is a dream to coach… she listens and applies what is being said to her. She’s adaptable, which we like all our boxers to be.

“She was all set to box in the National Finals as a Junior Cadet in Liverpool last year when the Pandemic hit and it was called off a few days before, so she’s looking forward to this one.”


Boxing at the England Boxing National Junior Championships 2021 starts at 1pm on Saturday and 12noon on Sunday.

Click here to view streaming details.

To keep up to date, go to the Junior Championships home page here and follow the action on social media using the hashtag #EBNJC21.