Last night, Tuesday 7 May, 3 PARA defeated their colleagues from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) by 5-4, in a match that was decided in the dying minutes of the final bout.
2 PARA started strongly and went into the interval 3-1 up. 3 PARA recovered in the heavier weight classes, resulting in the match being tied at 4-4.
In a tense contest heavyweight Private Joe Allen won the title for 3 PARA on a majority decision from 2 of the 3 judges. The victory came despite Private Allen having to face a standing count in the last round after his opponent Private James English landed a heavy blow.
Private Allen said:
I felt that there was a lot of pressure on me, but the coach told me I was the better boxer and if I kept calm in the ring I would win, which I did.
The competition’s been a great experience and I was really happy to win the decisive bout. I lost in last season’s final, which we won 8-1, so it was great to get rid of that ghost!
3 PARA went into the fight as champions and have won the competition every time they have entered since 2003. They did not compete in 2006, 2008 or 2011 because they were on operations in Afghanistan.
Corporal Ben Cunningham, 3 PARA’s head coach, said:
The match was closer than I expected and I’m so proud of this victory. 2 PARA were well-motivated and fought really well, but our boxers don’t get into the ring to lose.
Even though we were down at the interval I felt confident because I knew the boxers we had to come were big, strong guys who had fought in winning teams. It was that experience that made the difference.
Corporal Rob O’Neill, 2 PARA’s head coach, said:
I’m proud of the team’s performance but gutted at the result. We smashed our way to the final and have lost to the undefeated champions.
3 PARA was the only team who could beat us, because as paratroopers we share the same fitness levels and mentality. They’ve won, but they know we pushed them to the limit, and no other boxing team in the Army could have done that.
The boxers are all soldiers who are trained to deploy as part of the Airborne Task Force, which is maintained by 16 Air Assault Brigade to be ready for operations anywhere in the world at short notice.
Addressing the boxers afterwards, Brigadier Giles Hill, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, drew parallels between the Parachute Regiment’s success in the ring and on operations from the Second World War to the current campaign in Afghanistan.
It is a huge achievement for both teams to fight their way to the final. Boxing requires the same battle-winning qualities of fitness, self-discipline, courage and determination as are needed on operations.
We can all be proud of the young soldiers who have stepped into the ring and shown us what they are made of. They possess the same qualities of their predecessors and will maintain the strong traditions and standards of the Parachute Regiment.
The contest, which was broadcast live on BFBS TV, was held at Colchester’s Corporal Budd VC Gymnasium in front of a lively crowd.