A former amateur boxer who swapped his gloves for text books has gained a first class masters degree from Cambridge University.
This weekend Harry Harland, 23, will graduate from the prestigious university with a first in his masters degree in criminal and civil law.
Harry, who used to train with Horsley Hill ABC, had originally applied to study his three-year undergraduate law degree at Oxford, but ended up studying at York University when he failed to gain a place.
However, the determined student thought he’d apply again to the country’s elite universities last year when it came to his one-year master degree.
Harry, from Brandling Court, South Shields: “I just want to show people that you don’t have to give up, if things don’t turn out how you first planned.
“I’d always wanted to go to either Oxford or Cambridge and when I was initially knocked back I was still determined.
You don’t have to give up.Harry Harland
“They never said why I didn’t gain a place, but at the time I wasn’t academically brilliant, so I knew I had to try harder.
“When I received my first in my law degree at York and knew I’d then gained a place at Cambridge it will brilliant, I was so pleased.”
Harry left Harton Technology College in South Shields with 12 GCSEs ranging from A* to C which were, in his words, ‘nothing amazing’.
He then studied A-levels at the school’s sixth form where he gained two A*s in English literature and language, an A in law and a B in history.
During this time he also trained with Horsley Hill ABC as an amateur boxer.
He said: “After I left school I started to look to the future and realised I had to change and do something.
“My GCSEs weren’t amazing, so then I began studying properly and took things more seriously.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cambridge, but there was an immense amount of work, a lot was expected from you.”
Harry is now contemplating what to do with his future - but says he’d like to work within criminal law.
Dad Steve Harland couldn’t be more proud of his son’s achievements and determination.
He said: “One thing which sticks in my mind is when Harry was boxing for Horsley Hill ABC. He was fighting at the Hedworth Hall and had an A-level the next day, he turned up before his fight with a massive pile of books so he could study beforehand.”
He added: “We never dreamt that a normal lad like Harry would be accepted into Cambridge, but to also get a first in his exams is beyond our wildest dreams.”