Boxing

Aaron McKenna is Bahamas bound for Commonwealth Youth Games

Aaron McKenna with dad Fergal (right), renowned trainer Freddie Roach and Courage Tshabalala before he travelled to Russia for the Nikolay Pavlyukov tournament
Padraig O Meiscill

AARON McKenna will be travelling to the Bahamas with the North's Commonwealth Youth Games boxing panel after all.

Old School fighter McKenna had been due to take part in a box-off with Glengormley's Edgar Vuskans for the light-welterweight berth at the Games a fortnight ago, but withdrew from the National Stadium, Dublin bout.

Eligibility issues have since forced Vuskans to take his hat out of the ring to compete at the Games and McKenna has been selected as the man to fight at light-welterweight level for the North.

McKenna recently won a gold medal at the prestigious Nikolay Pavlyukov memorial tournament in Russia and would be strongly fancied to pick up a medal in this summer's Youth Games, which will run from July 18-23 in Nassau on the Caribbean island.

In all, six local boxers will be seeking to maintain the North's impressive recent record at Commonwealth competitions. Joining McKenna in the Bahamas will be Holy Trinity fighters Kian Bittles and Kane Tucker, Errigal's Dominic Bradley, Anthony Johnston of Gleann, Aaron McKenna and John Moran from the Illies club.

Dominic Bradley beat Callum Bradley of Sacred Heat, Omagh during the recent box-offs, while Anthony Johnston won a split decision over Michael Hennessy of St Monica's, Newry. The Holy Trinity pair were awarded automatic nominations.

Aaron's older brother Stephen and four other local boxers returned home with medals from the Samoan Youth Games in 2015.

“We've probably overachieved in the last two tournaments,” said Ulster Council president Paul McMahon, “and the lads are going to go out there again and do their absolute best, I've no doubt about that.

“There are big expectations on our shoulders, as there always is with boxing, but we firmly believe they're going to do the business. You don't send people out to competitions like this for experience.”

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