England Boxing National Amateur Championships 2019 – Kirsty Hill v Louise Orton preview
April 11, 2019 | by Matt Halfpenny
Out of the ring they get on well. In it, friendship will temporarily put aside.
On England Boxing National Amateur Championships 2019 Finals Day, the Female Under 60kg weight division brings together Kirsty Hill and Louise Orton – two boxes who have a long-standing and mutual respect for each other.
When Hill edged out GB boxer and number one seed Hannah Robinson on a spilt decision in her semi-final bout, Orton was quick to come over and give her compatriot a congratulatory hug. They shared in each other’s joy at having reached the final.
At 4.40pm on Saturday, though, there will be no room for sentiment. Each has a job to do if they are to achieve a long-held ambition.
Neither boxer has yet tasted success on English boxing’s biggest stage by winning a national senior title. And both women so desperately want it to be them.
“I was absolutely delighted with my win on Sunday – I’ve never made it this far before,” said Hill. “I was nearly in tears after beating Hannah – I had to hold back a bit.
“I went in the underdog against a seasoned boxer who is with the GB squad, so everyone was expecting her to win with ease, especially with her being defending champion.
“I just went in with the mentality of leaving everything in the ring, giving it everything I’d got, and it paid off.
“Louise are friends, but we haven’t spent all that much time in the ring together. We have sparred, but that was a few years ago now.
“Like Hannah Robinson who I boxed in the semi-final, she is a very good opponent, so I’m putting in the hard work again this week in preparation.
“Hopefully I can put in a good performance in the final and win it, but, if not, at the very least I want to show people what I am all about and give her a good run for her money.”
Cleethorpes Trinity boxer Hill will be rallying friends and family to make the journey from North East Lincolnshire to support her in Manchester.
Her club will, no doubt, also be screening a bout on their big screen, just as they did her semi-final, taking advantage of the fact it will be streamed live on both the BBC and the England Boxing YouTube Channel.
She added: “I can’t believe I’m at Finals Day. It’s taken a while to sink in to be honest because it’s a dream come true.
“I’ve been on the circuit for a while, so for something like this to happen is massive for me… I have done my time. Hopefully I can get a few folks to come along – let’s hope they jump on the bandwagon!”
While this is Hill’s first time at this stage of the Championships, Orton has been here twice before, but has yet to emerge the victor.
In 2016 she was beaten by One Nation’s Sandy Ryan and in 2017 Orton was again a runner-up, this time to St Ives’ Shona Whitwell.
She booked her latest shot at the title by coming through with a unanimous success over Headland’s Sadie Thomas in the semi-finals, having beaten Simone Thompson of Lambton Street in the quarters.
“I wasn’t surprised that Kirsty beat Hannah because I saw the bout afterwards and she boxed well,” said Orton. “It shows the depth of talent we are starting to get in women’s boxing.
“It will be a bit different in terms of mentality boxing Kirsty because we know each other. If you’re boxing someone you don’t know when you’ve got no problems in getting the punches in!
We haven’t boxed before, but I know that once the bell rings, you just have to get on with it because there is a big prize at stake.
“We both want to win, but I’m sure whoever does will be congratulated by the other at the end.”
Orton is indebted to her employers, Oxleas NHS, who she says have been very accommodating in helping her fit in her strict training regime.
The Chatham boxer, from the St Mary’s Boxing Club that is also home to Itauma brothers Karol and Enriko, trains six days a week to stay at the top of her game.
Orton said: “There are time when I’ve been up early training that I am nodding off to sleep in meetings and they have to give me a nudge!
“But I think when you have what is two full-time jobs – work and the boxing – you have to work with people who are understanding.
“With my break at lunch, they often let me run over my time a little by a few minutes so I have the chance to do some training before showering and getting changed back for work. It’s great to know you have support like that.
“The last boxer from St Mary’s to win a senior title was Johnny Armour 20 years ago, so I would love to be the next from the club – and the first woman – to do it.”
If you want to cheers the boxers on, you can buy tickets on the day, with doors open from 1pm.
You can view spectator information here and follow all the build-up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #EBNAC19.
If you can’t make it to Manchester Central, you can watch all the action unfold live on the BBC or on our YouTube channel.