Boxing clever

The fields of boxing and academia have historically shared a tempestuous relationship but Eastbourne boxing coach Adam Haniver is aiming to change this.

The 31-year-old has made unparalleled strides in combining boxing with mainstream education in the local area, offering opportunities to young fighters that were previously unheard of.

As well as coaching at the Eastbourne-based University of Brighton Boxing Club, last year he also took on the coaching at the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (A.A.S.E.) scheme.

Based at City College Brighton, this revolutionary idea combines academic study alongside daily high-level boxing training for fighters from all over the south east.

He said, “This offers them the chance to pursue the sport they love as well as getting an education. With boxing especially, this has never been the case.

“We are providing a platform for the boys to progress, both as academics as well as athletes.

“That’s the key thing. We turned away a lot of boxers at our trial process because, while they were extremely talented lads, we didn’t feel they’d be willing to do the college work that is just as crucial to their development.

“It’s a massive opportunity for any young fighter to progress forward. We’ve even got a training camp in Tenerife coming up.

“A lot of these kids have never even been abroad before, so this summarises the kind of chance we’re offering to everybody on the scheme.”

Eastbourne’s 18-year-old boxer Joe Libeccio makes the trip to Brighton every weekday to take part in the training.

He said, “The course is going really well for me and the boxing training is a bonus.

“It’s such an exciting thing to be a part of, I don’t know what I’d be doing without it and I’m looking to progress my boxing career as far as I can.”

Haniver has been met with scepticism from a number of local boxing clubs worried about losing their best young talent.

Yet Haniver insists this is a misconception.

“The point of A.A.S.E. is to work alongside the fighter’s clubs to develop them.

“With our current fighters, I’ll sit down with their club coaches, discuss what they want us to work on in the gym and do it in a very scientific and professional environment.

“Archie Hutchins won the Junior ABA finals because we’ve been able to work alongside his coaches at Tadley ABC, and he could soon be ranked as the best fighter in his age group in Britain.”

The gym at City College is certainly very impressive. Equipped with an 18ft ring alongside rows of punchbags and gym equipment, it’s little wonder the facility has earned the nickname ‘The Palace’ amongst the six other colleges currently enrolled on the A.A.S.E. scheme across the country.

There is even a classroom where the fighters can sit down and analyse specific aspects of their performance, and this modern, thinking approach is the foundation behind sports science graduate Haniver’s attitude to boxing training.

His methods were reinforced on a recent visit to the Institute of Sport in Sheffield, where the A.A.S.E. hopefuls trained alongside Team GB’s boxing hopefuls for London 2012.

Having sampled a taste of the elite level, Haniver is keen to return there in a more permanent form.

“For now I’m very happy doing what I’m doing. I want to progress A.A.S.E. as far as I can as well as earning plenty of teaching and coaching qualifications of my own.

“Beyond that though, one day I’d love to be a boxing coach with Team GB.

“I’m ambitious in everything I do, and I hope that one day I can get to the very top of the sport I love.”