Schools Championship 2023: Girls preview (Class B, Under 51kg)

May 12, 2023 | by Chris Boyd


For many boxers, this England Boxing National Schools Championships 2023 weekend is all about kickstarting their fledgling careers, earning some valuable experience and hopefully taking home a title at the end of it.

But not Crowle’s Ruby Took. She is ahead of the curve.

“She’s had 23 bouts so she’s the most experienced in her age group by a mile. We get her out boxing quite regularly,” said Mark Lappin, head coach at the East Midlands club.

“I’ve been coaching Ruby since she was eight years old and she’s just turned 14, so it’s six years she’s been with me.

“She’s a two-time East Midlands champion, a Hull Box Cup finalist, National Schools Champion and she’s won a European bronze medal.”

That taste of success for England, at the EUBC European Schools Championships last year in Turkey, has given Took all the motivation she needs going forward.

Lappin added: “She wants to box for England again, she wants to box at the Europeans again.

“I think once you’ve had a taste for it you want it again and there’s not many in the gym that train as hard as her, there’s not many as disciplined and, as a coach, she’s a pleasure.

“I think winning the Schools would mean the world to her. Winning a National Championship is brilliant but to win it twice… it says you’re a good boxer, you’re a good kid.”

Standing in her way of a Took double at the Guildford Spectrum is The Factory ABC’s Lyla Knight.

Although new to boxing, she can boast some personal success, says her trainer and head coach Jon Pitman.

“Lyla’s main achievement is coming to the gym and giving herself some direction,” he said. “I think she’s one of those young people where boxing is her saviour, really.

“She’s got so much energy and you can just see if she wasn’t in the sport and so close knit with her family, she could quite easily get herself in trouble.

“She’s got loads of natural talent. She’s aggressive, she’s tough, she sometimes needs to listen and slow herself down and think about what she’s doing. But she’s orthodox, she likes to come forward and she can do it all really.

“I think winning the Schools would mean the world to her, she lives and breaths it and she puts everything into it.

“I know, not just for Lyla, but it would mean the world to her mum and dad for her to do well in this competition.”

On the other side of the draw is Sudbury ABC’s Ellie Spencer, who has more than just England Boxing National Schools Championship success on her mind.

“Ellie lost to Serena (Mali) last year. She got caught with a couple of shots, but we felt it was premature” said Ellie’s head coach, Neil Anderson.

“It is what it is and losing to her last year, Ellie’s taken that as a positive. She’s determined and she wants to put it right.

“She wanted to draw Serena. She said wanted her and she wanted to put it right and she’s feeling confident and can’t wait to get back in there.

“She’s in the gym all the time, listening, doing her running, doing 5k runs, improving her Park Run times.

“Winning the schools would mean everything to her. It’s everything she wants; she wants to be a boxer and she’s so dedicated.

“I have no doubt that her boxing will really come through. She’s got nice feet, she’s a pleasure to have in the gym I must say.”

While Spencer’s wish with the draw has come true, Cleary’s Gym’s Serena Mali will be looking to stifle her opponent for the second year on the bounce, and her coach Roy Thornton has confidence in his boxer.

Another European medallist, winning silver last summer, the Midlands representative hopes for more action with the Three Lions by first doing business in this tournament.

“We feel confident, without sounding over the top. I’m quietly confident let’s say,” said Thornton.

“I’ve worked with Serena for about four or five years. She used to be very quiet, but I’d say she’s a little bit more outspoken now she’s older.

“She’s down to earth, likes a bit of joke and she’s a nice person.”

While a likeable character out of the ring, Thornton paints the picture of a tough and awkward boxer with plenty of ambition once she steps through the ropes.

He added: “She’s long-range, in and out, picks you off like that. A sort of first and third boxer, she can switch it as well, she’s fantastic.

“As a boxer, she’s… awesome. In one word, awesome. She turns heads no matter where we go, whether it’s sparring or pads.

“She’s very ambitious and she’s looking quite far ahead. I’ve ordered my Aston Martin already!”

More on the Schools 2023

Click here for spectator info. Click here for the Schools Championships home page. Follow across social media via #EBNSC23.