Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, is not famous for producing boxers. But soon, the fate of this small town, famous for its beaches and sunshine, is set to change. Tipped to go places, 19-year-old Ian Weaver is slowly shaping up into England's best prospect for the 2012 London Olympics.
On Sunday, Weaver packed more than just a few power-punches to unleash his prowess against Akhil Kumar at the Talkatora Stadium. The southpaw from England thumped Akhil 12-6 in the 56kg quarterfinals of the XXX Commonwealth Boxing Championships.
Currently, England No. 1 with five national titles and a gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Pune, Weaver was destined to become a boxer. In fact, boxing runs in his blood. His grandfather, Iain James, and father, Jason, were boxers. His mother is a boxing judge and sister Charlotte, 16, is training to be one. That's not all, the fast-fisted southpaw shares his birthday with Muhammad Ali!
"I was six when I accompanied my father to a Southampton gym," Weaver recalls. "Boxing was popular there but not where I lived. While he trained there, I would join my friends for a few fun sessions of boxing."
Outside the ring, the baby-faced Weaver enjoys snooker. He feels his young team is adopting strenuous training methods for the 2012 Olympics. "We will be fighting for national pride. We are being trained in a way that we bag medals in each category at the Games," said Weaver, who also became one of the five teenagers to win ABA crowns in Sheffield in May last.
Weaver was aware of Akhil's, a Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medallist, exploits. Yet, he showed no signs of nervousness and scored mostly on counter-punches despite trailing 2-3 in the first round.
"I knew he was a top player. It is the hardest fought win for me," said Weaver.
Akhil was devastated after the loss. "I will come back," he said. "Never expected this to happen."