Dolan inspiration for Baister gold hunt

Commonwealth Games-bound Sunderland boxer Warren Baister
Commonwealth Games-bound Sunderland boxer Warren Baister
Share this article
Have your say

WARREN Baister hopes to follow in the ringsteps of Sunderland boxing hero David Dolan by bringing the Commonwealth Games title to the city.

Dolan struck gold in Manchester in 2002 in the super-heavyweight division, with a brilliant 27-20 win over Canada’s David Cadieux in the final.

Twelve years on from the Plains Farm star’s success, Baister is quietly confident of going all the way in the heavyweight division in Glasgow.

The 29-year-old said his Wearside neighbour proved a help and inspiration to the then teenage Baister, who has grown into an international-class boxer who is one of England’s top medal hopes in the ring.

“Davey winning the Commonwealths was fantastic,” Baister told the Echo.

“It was him who really started me off as a boxer.

“I sparred with him not long after he’d won gold and he really brought me on a lot as a boxer.

“At first, I was just getting pummelled, but it’s the only way to get better in this game.

“It inspired me and made me better so a lot of where I am now is down to Davey.”

The Commonwealth Games opens on Wednesday when Baister and his team-mates will take part in the opening ceremony at Celtic Park.

But the Sunderland boxer’s work will not start until the weekend, with the U91 kilo preliminaries on Friday and Sunday.

If, and hopefully when, Baister emerges from that stage, he will box on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday if he goes all the way.

And that’s the plan for the boxer who has performed with credit at the European and World championships against top eastern European opposition.

“It’s a relief to get a chance at something like this, a real high-profile tournament,” said the ABA champion.

“I’m just hoping I can push on and I’ll be disappointed if I don’t make the final.

“I’m very confident, to be honest.”

Baister has every right to be confident – he is an exciting boxer and with loads of guts as he proved with his bloody national triumph after which he needed 13 stitches to a gaping eye wound.

But Baister knows there is strong competition especially from Canada’s Samir El-Mais and Jai Opetaia, from Austrlia.

Middlesbrough’s Simon Vallily won this title in Delhi four years ago, and Baister hopes he’ll keep the medal in the North-East.

“Simon won gold and had a great tournamant,” said Baister. “I think he stopped everyone.

“A few of the lads have moved over (into the professionals) in the heavyweight division, but I know a few of them.

“I think Canada and Australia will be my main threats.”

Baister is part of an 11-strong England team north of the border – eight men and, for the first time, three women.

World Championship middleweight bronze medallist Antony Fowler heads the male side.

Charlie Edwards will box at flyweight, while fellow European bronze medallist Joe Joyce will be favourite at super-heavyweight.

Bantam Qais Ashfaq, lightweight Pat McCormack, light-welter Sam Maxwell and welter Scott Fitzgerald complete the team.

Hartlepool’s Savannah Marshall, the reigning world champion, is joined in the women’s team by Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams and European silver medallist Natasha Jonas.