OLYMPIC boxer Tony Jeffries faced his greatest match ever yesterday – to his childhood sweetheart.
Tony, 26, tied the knot with Sarah Kneeshaw, 27, at St Paul’s Church, Ryhope, before a reception at the Copt Hill in Houghton.
The pair have been together for six years but have known each other since they were tots.
Their eyes first met at Mill Hill Nursery, then they went to Farringdon Comprehensive together before love blossomed in their early 20s.
Sarah from Chapelgarth who juggles being a nurse at Sunderland Royal Hospital with her vintage clothes business, Loves Fashion, looked stunning in a sweeping lace gown.
Tony, from Silksworth, ditched his boxing shorts for a dapper suit to marry the woman he describes as “the girl of his dreams.”
He said: “It was a great day. We couldn’t have asked for better.
“It’s a special occasion for both of us, but especially for Sarah because we got married in the same church as her mam and dad were.”
Guests at the evening reception included Tony’s 2006 Commonwealth Games boxing team-mate Danny Price, from Scarborough, and his old Sunderland clubmate Warren Baister, who has just won the British amateur heavyweight title.
Invites to the reception featured a photograph from Mill Hill Primary School in 1990, when Tony and Sarah were in the same class.
Congratulations messages from across the city and beyond flooded in for the popular pair.
Footballer-turned-Strictly Come Dancing star Robbie Savage tweeted: “Hope Tony Jeffries has a great day getting married. Good luck pal.”
Sunderland players also wished the couple well. Midfielder David Meyler took to Twitter to say: “Everyone wish Tony Jeffries all the best, he’s getting married today.”
Tony said: “We had so many good luck messages for the wedding, it was like it is before a fight. Thank you all so much.”
The couple have been home in Sunderland for the past few months while Tony, who won bronze for boxing at the last Olympic Games, recovers from a hand injury.
They took his break from intense training as an opportunity to get married in their home city.
After Christmas they will return to their new home in Los Angeles, where Tony, who is now a professional boxer, trains with Tommy Brookes who’s worked with world champions including Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
The newly-weds are now looking forward to their honeymoon in Dubai.