Billingshurst boxer Danny Kirkland fought his way to a gold medal in the prestigious Haringey Box Cup over the weekend.
The renowned three-day event is recognised as Europe’s largest international open boxing tournament and a big date in the amateur ranks.
Former national youth champion, Kirkland took to one of the four rings in the Alexandra Palace in north London and fought his way to three wins to clinch the 69kg welterweight senior crown.
It saw the 18-year-old’s first adult fights - meaning he would be without a head guard for the first time - and his return to the ring after an optional prolonged absence.
Despite this, the former Horsham ABC member beat Belfast’s Amir Belkessam in the second-round of their quarter-final by knock-out and overcame Tayjay Williams of Neasden with a third-round stoppage in the semi-final.
He then went on to win the final again Finchley’s Yaser zou al Ghena by a unanimous decision to win his weight.
Kirkland said: “It was brilliant. Really good and I just feel so proud of myself and that all my hard work has paid off.
“You can be quite overwhelmed sometimes after and thinking that you have just gone in there and boxed and not done that much, but I felt really proud and I am still quite happy now.
“It’s a tournament held over three days and a lot of people from all over the world come over to box in it. It is a nationally recognised championship and very highly regarded.
“It was pretty hard due to the fact there are boxers that are really good lads and that it is over three days as well, normally you would have one fight every couple of months.
“It was also my first-ever adult fight. I did well as a junior, winning a national title, but I had never fought as an adult and I was a bit worried with how I would cope without a head guard.
“I wasn’t just planning to go there and lose, but I wasn’t expecting to win it despite trying to.”
The fighter, who now boxes for Brighton & Hove under coach Rob Purkis, will be competing again in September after having the summer off - a strategy that has worked for him before.
He added: “I took a break from it for a while as it is a very demanding sport and I fancied a break just to recharge my batteries and it has helped again.
“The aim now is to have more fights and try and get as many wins as I can and get up the amateur ranks, although it’s a very tough thing to do.”