SUNDERLAND boxer Josh Kelly will fight for England later this month in what he hopes will be the highlight of his career to date.
The 18-year-old Houghton ABC fighter was thrilled to be selected for the Under 19 World Championships due to be held in Armenia over the course of a fortnight beginning on Friday, November 23.
And he is relishing the prospect of travelling as part of an official England squad, representing his country at international level.
The ex-St Aidans school pupil, who lives in High Barnes with dad Paul and mam Deborah, has boxed for England at junior, schooboy and youth level but this is the first time he has been selected to compete in the world championships.
Josh, who has been boxing since he was 11, hopes one day to turn professional but for the moment his eyes set firmly on achieving as much in the amateur ranks as possible.
And like several top young prospects coming through in the North East he is targetting making an impact when it comes to selection for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
This month’s tournament could be one of the first steps on that long road to South America and the teenager is determined to make the most of the opportunity.
After the opening ceremony and a few days acclimatisation, Josh can expect to fight up to half-a-dozen times before his return home in the 60-64 kilo category – the most competitive division in the entire championships.
Josh got his shot at the chance of taking part in the championships after excelling in the Tri-Nations tournament and then being invited to a series of training camps at Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield.
His work in the training sessions and in the tournament were eye-catching enough to warrant a call-up to the biggest boxing event of his career to date. Josh has an apprenticeship as an engineering inspector at Birtley-based Komatsu and is dividing his time between building a career in heavy machinery and packing a punch in the ring.
He told the Echo: “I was thrilled to get the call up and I’m looking forward to taking part.
“It should be a great experience and I’m determined to make the most of it.
“I’d like to thank everyone, from my family, to Houghton ABC, to Komatsu because everyone’s played a part in helping me as much they can and I appreciate it.”