PURGE BOXING Academy are celebrating huge success after Zain Hanif was triumphant in the England Boxing National Schools’ Championships. The 13-year-old beat the previous national champion on a split decision to claim the Under-35.5kg title at the K2 Centre in Crawley.
Zain is now ranked number one in his weight division in the county, and has earned a place on the England Talent Programme.
“Zain Hanif has always been a very hard-working, punctual and special boxer,” said coach Mohammed Amin Patel, who travelled to the finals along with fellow coach Bilal Dhadiwala and father Imran Hanif. He came to me as a 10-year-old. When I started working with him I saw something which not a lot of kids have and that is natural talent.
“His ability to adapt to different styles, his movement, his mindset and work ethic was unreal at such a young age. I think he is the first ever England schoolboy champion to come out of Dewsbury and Batley which is a massive achievement.”
Zain entered the minor championships at the event last year with only two bouts under his belt, and was defeated in the semi-finals by Corey Spencer from PTSOB. After winning the Yorkshire title his attention returned to national success, and he came up against Corey again in the quarter-finals, winning via a unanimous decision to go into the finals. In the semi-final in Crawley, Zain came up against Calum Naylor from the renowned West Ham club, and a smart performance earned him the win on a split decision.
Left standing in his way was the previous champion, Shane Price, who went into the fight with a perfect record of 19-0, but he was far from daunted. Amin said: “Zain started the round brightly, picking his opponent with some slick counter punching. His opponent was struggling to find his range due to Zain’s excellent footwork, hitting angles and pivots. He comfortably won the first round.
“(In the) second round, Shane Price came out looking to bully Zain and not give his distance. Zain met him toe-to-toe with good work but Shane applied pressure and got the better of exchanges. In the final round Shane came out like a train. Zain started picking him off with amazing counters, shooting a lethal backhand, stepping off and check hooking, catching his opponent time after time. Zain had his best round yet and showed his class and intelligence.”
That final round was enough for him claim the title on a split decision.
“I have seen him progress over the years and I’m happy to say his hard work truly paid off,” said coach Bilal. “I’ve seen the sacrifices he’s had to make and know now that it was all worth it. To watch his journey to become National Champion was just amazing.
“It makes me feel so proud to be a part of it and to know that he will be representing England in the near future.”
Zain’s father Imran added: “I am very proud of my son. I have seen the hard work and effort his coach Mo Amin has put in him to take him and get him to the level that he is.“As a coach he keeps himself very low key and doesn’t get the praise he deserves, for me he is one of the youngest and most talented coaches in the country.”
Amin praised all of the coaches at Purge – Bilal, Haroon Arif, Umar Arif, Mohammed Elahi and Mo Aslam – for their work, with the gym winning five national titles, 11 Yorkshire titles, an English belt and Yorkshire belt in two-and-a-half years since opening. Purge is also now a pro gym with a renowned coach in Julian McGowan, who guided Gary Sykes to a British title. Amin also thanked his sponsors, Healthopeadic Zero Gravity, Clifton Packaging, Komfiline and Spen Motors, for their backing of the gym.