KYLE ENGLAND has completed a fine return from injury by becoming a national boxing champion.
The Bideford bantamweight was in sharp form to win the England ABA Senior Novice Championships in Sunderland on Saturday.
Victory over Mohamed Roshid, of Bury ABC, made England the first senior national champion from North Devon since Glenn Adair in 1977.
Since sitting out last year with a fractured hand, the 19-year-old has returned with renewed determination.
He said: "I had a season out and when I came back it gave me that much more hunger.
"I missed it like mad and I always wanted to get back in. It made me a better boxer."
Having reached the final with wins against Riaz Noorgate in London and Ben Davey in Norwich, England was determined to take his chance.
With Bideford ABC coaches Richard Grigg and Chris Friendship in his corner, he was also supported by his dad and Ricky Dymond, the club's recent National Ambition Championships finalist.
Roshid, from the club where Amir Khan started, found it difficult to match the aggression of England over four rounds.
"He was strong but come the end he was not fit enough and I don't think he wanted it as much as I did," said England.
After a tactical opening round, the Bideford boxer began to get on top, landing straight rights and combinations.
Roshid tried to box and move but found it difficult to stay at range as England stayed inside and worked away with hooks and uppercuts.
By the fourth round, the North Devon boxer was controlling the bout with his superior workrate. However, he still faced a nervous wait as the ring announcer read out a majority decision.
"I thought I had won it and when he said 'majority' I was just praying he would say my name," said England.
"I was over the moon when I won. All the effort I have put in has paid off. I always had an inkling I could do it but I couldn't believe it once I did it."
England, from East-the-Water, first started boxing with Bideford about five years ago.
"I just thought I would give it a go," he said. "It turned out I enjoyed it and I wasn't too bad at it.
"I thought I'd have a couple of fights and see how I got on but I never thought in a million years I'd get to that standard and win a national title.
"I love training, I love keeping myself fit and healthy, and I love the banter with the lads, going to new places and meeting new people.
"And I love the fight and the sense of achievement once you've finished."
Having secured the novice title for boxers with fewer than 20 competitive bouts, he will step up to the England ABA open class competition in the new year.
Dymond was in fine form for a wide points victory over James Miller, of Mayflower ABC, at a show in Plymouth.
After weathering an early storm when Miller tried to take him out with heavy shots, Dymond's range of skills shone through. He dominated the bout with fast combinations and counter-punching.
On the same bill, Ray Penfold won a rematch with Kristian Sprangle, of Mayflower, following up his recent success at the Bideford dinner show. Like the original meeting, Penfold controlled the bout with his jab and Sprangle was wobbled on several occasions in the closing round.
Bideford's Billy Parsons and Shane Broadway, from Kings ABC, had the crowd roaring their appreciation at a frantic encounter. Both lads gave everything over three rounds and Parsons just missed out on a tight majority.
Jake Hatch, of Bideford, did himself proud on his debut for the Western Counties against Army boxer Jon Bennett.Hatch went on the attack from the opening bell and landed some powerful shots but Bennett, working well on the inside, did enough to take a narrow points decision.