Youth Championships 2021 preview: The Female Under 64kg Youth contenders
November 25, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny
It’s been a long wait, but, finally, Sacha Hickey will once more get the chance to show her pedigree on the big stage.
After a stellar 2019 during which she won the England Boxing National Junior Championships in Rotherham, and followed up by winning the Junior European Championships in Romania, it’s been a frustrating time for the 18-year-old prospect.
First Covid-19 put paid to competitive domestic boxing for the best part of a year-and-a-half and then, after Montenegro was put on the government red list for travel, the England squad, of which Hickey was part, had to pull out of October’s Youth European Championships.
Now, though, the Peacock’s Gym boxer, who has only ever lost once and never in a bout in England, has a platform to perform as she bids to build her reputation and push for a place on the GB Boxing squad.
“Sacha put in a lot of hard work and got her weight right for the Europeans, so it was a blow and disappointing to not go in the end, but that’s the world we are living in because of the Pandemic,” said coach Ray Bull.
“But she has still benefited from going up the road to train in Sheffield with the England coaches and everyone is in the same boat when it comes to a lack of bouts.
“She’s had a bit of a growth spurt, so we looked at competing at 60kg, but we decided there was no point in her making it really difficult on herself to make that weight. So we decided to go for 64kg and now she is very comfortable at that.
“Her main thing at the moment is to try to win this competition and, if she can do that, she would hope to compete and win at elite level next year, with a view to competing at the Commonwealth Games and, in the long term, getting on the GB squad.”
But the London region boxer is by no means getting ahead of herself – far from it. Bull insists she is focusing on one bout at a time and taking no opponent for granted.
Hickey’s semi-final on Saturday will be against Morgan Baber, now in the colours of Trowbridge, but previously with Bristol club Downend.
Bull said: “You can’t take anything for granted in boxing – and Sacha knows that. She won’t be in the final unless she wins her semi, and she won’t be the champion unless she wins the final.
“Things can go wrong, we saw it recently where one of the favourites at the London region event went out after there was an injury to his opponent, but he still lost on points looking at the bout up to the point it was stopped.
“So it’s important to stay in the moment and not look too far ahead, which is what she will be looking to do.”
Should Hickey get through her semi-final bout, she will come up against fellow reigning national champion, Millie Backhouse, in the final.
The boxer from the Burmantofts club in Leeds won an England Boxing National Youth Championship title last year at Cadet level after she beat Camp Detox’s Natalia Nicholson at Under 60kg. She has 11 wins from 14 bouts overall.
Her efforts to peak for this event have been aided by being on the DISE Programme at the Joe Gallagher Academy, which has supplemented her club training under coach Philip Sellers.
He said: “Millie has been with us for about five years and she has won two national championships during that time, including the one last year and one at schools level.
“She was beaten by Sacha at junior level, so they have boxed each other before and know each other, should they meet again, if Sacha comes through her semi-final.
“Millie hasn’t had a competitive bout since that win in Birtley, but that will be the same for some of the other female boxers too… everyone is just getting back into it after Covid.
“Both have stepped up in weight from previously and, if it is those two who meet in the final, I think it will be a good one.
“Millie is an orthodox pressure boxer and she definitely has a chance of winning that title.”
Boxing at the England Boxing National Youth Championships 2021 starts at 1pm on Friday, 1pm on Saturday and 12noon on Sunday.