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Rising star JP Hale is aiming high as he embarks on European and Commonwealth Games mission

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JP Hale is determined to grab the opportunities that come his way

JP Hale is determined to grab the opportunities that come his way

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

JP Hale is relishing the next few months of a busy schedule

JP Hale is relishing the next few months of a busy schedule

Stephen Hamilton

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JP Hale is determined to grab the opportunities that come his way

It has been quite a year for JP Hale, who is getting ready for a busy couple of months fighting on the international circuit.

The Star ABC man made the senior breakthrough last October when claiming the Irish Elite title at 60kg and this earned him a place on the team to box at last year’s World Championships.

At the end of this month, the 21-year-old will compete at the Men’s European Boxing Championships in Armenia before making a step up to the Olympic weight of 63.5kg for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

From a rising prospect to a fighter with a wealth of experience in the space of eight months highlights how quickly progress can be made in amateur boxing.

His momentum could have been halted when lockdowns arrived just shortly after he had won his second Ulster Elite title in February 2020, but he continued to train when and where he could and that ultimately paid off.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” agreed Hale at the Commonwealth Games boxing team media day this week.

“Everything has been thrown at me at once but that’s what I want — to get all of the experience I can.

“In lockdown, after the first few months, I just kept ticking over with training at home as I knew once lockdown had passed, there would be some big opportunities.”

There had been discussion about whether or not Ireland would send a team to the World Championships given it would be a very inexperienced group travelling to Belgrade with the Olympic Games just passed.

In the end, those who did get their chance benefited from experiencing what it takes at the highest level of the sport and heading to Armenia for the European Championships off the back of a very productive training camp in Assisi has left Hale in a very positive frame of mind for the challenges that now lie ahead of him.

“We are ready for this and have had a good training camp,” he confirmed.

“The sparring was great and everyone was boxing well, so I’m feeling very sharp and ready.

“It was an eye-opener at the Worlds.

“Just seeing so many No.1s about was a case of taking it all in and you end up thinking, ‘So this is what it’s like...’.”

The Commonwealth Games come straight after and that’s music to Hale’s ears as he is a man who is eager to see as much action as he possibly can.

The step up to the new light-welterweight limit of 63.5kg will also suit as he continues to mature physically and with a very tricky route to qualify for the Paris Olympics beginning next year, Hale wants to cement his status as the No.1 in his weight division with plenty to show both internationally and domestically before this year is out.

“There’s no waiting about as after the Euros, you’re straight into the Commonwealths,” he agreed.

“I’ve gone up to 63.5kg for the Commonwealths as that’s the weight for the Olympics.

“This will suit me as if I can go and get a medal in Birmingham, then it will be the time to shine for the Olympics and then hopefully I can go and win at 63.5kg in the Irish Elites.

“The lads have always said that I was big for 60kg and even now that I’m big for 63.5kg.

“It will be a good fit as I’m strong at the weight.

“I was sparring others at the same weight, including Americans out in Italy there, so I’m feeling strong for it and ready to go.”


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