A BOXER has his eyes on the prize after being nominated for a Sunderland Sports Award.
The inaugural award ceremony will celebrate the talent and endeavour of the sports men, women and young people from the city just as the best athletes in the world will arrive in England for the London Olympics.
Former Black Cats star Marco Gabbiadini will sit on the judging panel along with Echo editor Rob Lawson and Kevin Gatens, from EDF Energy.
And one of Wearside’s top athletes, Warren Baister, has already received a number of nominations.
Warren, an amateur heavyweight boxer, has been one of Sunderland’s leading lights in his sport for a number of years.
The 26-year-old, who boxes at Sunderland ABC, said: “I’ve just come back from the Olympic qualifiers and though I didn’t get through it was a really good experience.
“I got through to the semi-finals and lost to the guy who went on to win.
“My next goal will be the world championships and I’m also starting to think seriously about turning professional. It definitely will be tougher if I turn pro as a boxing match can last up to 12 rounds, whereas as amateur boxing only lasts three rounds and you wear head guards. But I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“I have been boxing for nine years and started at a club in Marley Potts. The boxing scene on Wearside is definitely growing and there are quite a few exciting youngsters coming through.
“I think it would help if schools started to focus more on Olympic sports like boxing which would get kids interested.”
The awards ceremony will be held on June 14 and will have 12 categories, including team award, coach or mentor award, unsung hero and sports personality of the year.
It will be held at the Stadium of Light and each nominee will receive a complimentary ticket for the dinner.
The awards will be taking place just 48 hours before the Olympic Torch passes through the city on its nationwide tour.
Nominations must be returned by Thursday, May 29.