Boxer Matty McHale transformed by move to Lochend

Matty McHale was desperately unlucky in his bout, being hit by a stray elbow. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Matty McHale was desperately unlucky in his bout, being hit by a stray elbow. Pic: Ian Georgeson

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Capital boxer Matty McHale says he owes his recent rise in the sport to Terry McCormack and all the coaching staff at Lochend.

The 52kg Scottish champion reached the decision last year to leave his former club-mates at Meadowbank Boxing Club and re-register under the banner of McCormack’s premises on Sleigh Drive, a move vindicated when he won his first national title as a senior boxer in his debut season against Hayfield’s Jack Turner in March.

McHale admits success was hard to come by in the youth ranks but he is now targeting one of amateur boxing’s biggest prizes when he competes at the British Championships in Rotherham this weekend.

“I didn’t have the best of starts fighting as a youth and used to lose out on a lot of close decisions,” the 19-year-old told the Evening News. “But moving to Lochend has helped me come on leaps and bounds and Terry has really developed my style – it’s changed everything about me. I’ve just felt myself get better and better and that has shown in my results.

“When my former coach at Meadowbank, Mark Geraghty, left to take up the position as a GB coach, it was then I made the decision to leave for Lochend. I knew what Terry had achieved for the other boxers there so I wanted to give it a try and it’s been the best move I’ve ever made. I’m a lot more confident now and we all bring the best out of one another.”

McHale admits the success of Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Josh Taylor, pictured, was a huge factor in his decision to swap Meadowbank for Lochend and he hopes to emulate what the Prestonpans star has achieved both in Scotland and on the international stage.

“I used to go down to the gym when I was a wee bit younger and watch Josh Taylor and think ‘that’s the person I want to be’,” the orthodox fighter said. “I want to aim for what he has achieved and the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018 is my target. I’ve seen the hard work Josh puts in and look where it has taken him so it’s hugely inspiring. But there are so many good boxers at Lochend and you can’t help but improve with who you are sparring with.”

The youngster concedes he himself has been taken aback by his improvements shown in the ring this season but fully intends to keep moving forward with another title chance south of the border this weekend.

“To be honest I didn’t think I’d be where I am in my first year as a senior but it’s all the belief and hard work from my coaches and I’ve managed to get the results.

“I’m feeling really confident ahead of Saturday. I’ve trained hard and all my coaches have put so much work into me so hopefully I can pay them back by winning the British title. I just want to get back in the ring and come back home with the gold medal. If we get the game plan right then I think I can do the business.”

Despite being a novice on the senior circuit, McHale has certainly adapted well to the step up in competition. However, his recent defeat by Spain’s Kelvin de la Nieve at the Boxam Tournament in Murcia instilled some caution into the teenager.

“I haven’t really noticed the jump too much with the bouts I’ve had here but boxing over in Spain recently at the Boxam Tournament opened my eyes a little,” he said.

“I fought a 29-year-old who is a two-time Olympian and I really noticed the difference in strength. Then again I only got beat by a split decision so I’ve taken a lot from that and how to use my boxing brain that little bit better. It’s all about the experience so I’m really looking forward to going away with Scotland again sometime soon.”

Scottish champions Stephen Tiffney (60kg) and Lewis Benson (64kg), also of Lochend, are both vying for gold this weekend in South Yorkshire but Tommy Philbin (91kg) has had to withdraw due to injury.