A MAGHERAFELT boxer will go toe to toe with some of the best boxers in the world at his age group when he represents Ireland at the World Youth Championships in Armenia.
Thomas Waites, 18, from Magherafelt, will fight in the 64kg class at Yerevan between 25 November and 8 December.
In all, Ireland will have seven representatives and the six foot one, nine-and-a-half stone student will have his work cut out to bring back the gold.
Dad Seamus told the MAIL: “Thomas has been boxing since he was eleven and this has been a long, arduous road - there have been a lot of knock backs.
“However, this feels like he has smashed down a door. He has been circling around the national setup for quite some time but this is the next big step. Even to be considered for the championships is a massive achievement.”
Thomas has won four Ulster titles and five Antrim titles during his years in the ring and his Dad, a former boxer himself, could not be more proud of his boy. But is also the father of an Ulster U18 rugby-playing daughter, Sinead, and husband to Karen, a talented former judo and stock-car racer, something that Seamus believes has given Thomas a great deal of support.
“Thomas has put so much work into his sport,” Seamus said. “It can be quite a solitary existance when he is preparing for a fight and training, but all his hard work has paid off.
“He has had a lot of help along the way, not least from Mickey and Harry Harkness of Holy Trinity club in Belfast, Toome ABC coach Damian Kennedy, Anthony McKenna from A-Wan Sports, and Mickey Young of Young Spartans Gym.
“He was also lucky enough to have trained with the Cuban, Puerto Rican, Canadian and Australian boxers when they were getting ready for the Olympics and, long term, that is his aim - to represent his country at the Olympics.
“But before that the next step is the seniors. He’s maybe a bit young for that yet so we’ll enter him in the U21 and intermediate tournaments for the time being.
“He has knocked down a big door now and he is aiming for the top,” Seamus said.
Thomas is also on the lookout for any sponsors who might be interested in helping him fulfil his dream of representing his country at the Young Championships. If you are interested please contact Seamus on 07526706818.