Royal Marines are invited to compete in the CISM Boxing Tournament in Rotterdam

Storyline: Boxing

The Royal Marines Boxing Association were invited as guests to the CISM Boxing tournament in Rotterdam.

The International Military Sport Council (CISM) is a global Military Sports organisation with 138 Members. 

Holland hosted this year’s boxing event due to a last-minute change in venue (Bogata) after Columbia pulled out. The Royal Marines, having recently competed in Holland in Ex Dutch Gauntlet, were formally invited to compete at the prestigious event.

9 Boxers under the management of Maj Tommy McPhee and the coaching leadership of RM coach Sgt Brookes departed CTCRM for the journey via Bristol Airport to Rotterdam. Additional support by officials, Lt Cdr Graham Blick and Maj Keith Robertson ensured that the team were appropriately represented.

After the draw and an early weigh in on Tuesday, the boxing commenced in earnest. 

Teams from Ireland, Germany and Holland completed the matrix with the RMBA representing the UK. Additional Boxers from the Royal Navy Boxing team were brought in to support the event and compete for the UK. 

The boxing began with Mne Jonas Lord (43 Cdo) beating Viet Nguyen of Germany. Lord was impressive throughout and set the day up nicely with a unanimous points victory. 

Mne Joe Slatter (42 Cdo) was involved in a ‘humdinger’ with Ben McHugh of Ireland, an excellent contest just being edged by the Irishman who was judged to be the winner by way of Split decision. 

AB Martin Stuart-McCrae (HMS Neptune) competed against a tough man from Germany in Yoku Hanson and despite McCrae’s tireless effort, Hanson held the ground and connected with the cleaner shots, winning by a unanimous points decision.

Mne Connor Fanning (30 Cdo) put in a fine performance against tough Irish Boxer Adam Kelly. Fanning dominated the bout from the start, dropping his man with a body shot in the second round before crisply running out winner by Unanimous decision. 

Following up was AB Oliver Betts (RNAS Yeovilton) who came up against the rangy Dean Grossegor from the host nation, despite a good first round, Grossegor could not deal with the power of the Sailor and Betts stopped his man in the second round with a volley of shots in the Holland man’s corner. 
The final UK Boxer was Mne Tommy Tolhurst (42 Cdo) who, having had some time out of the ring, put in a credible performance against the tough Shane Cunningham of Ireland. The bout was going the way of the Irishman in the second round when a clash of heads brough the fight to an early conclusion, resulting in Tolhurst unable to continue.

Day 2 saw two RM boxers compete with an additional ‘Skills Bout’ added for training. 

First up in the final at 75kg was Mne Connor Fanning (30 Cdo). After a tough opener on day 1 he faced local Dutch Army man Martina Zion, a skilful boxer who we previously met in Amsterdam in June when he boxed Mne Humphreys. 

Fanning started on the front foot and won the close exchanges, tagging his man with accurate snappy counter punches. Zion remained dangerous and stepped up his work rate in the 2nd round which he just edged. 

Into the third and Fanning increased his industry and began to dominate the contest once more, almost flooring his man in the last few seconds of the bout with a crisp right hand. Fanning won the contest on a Unanimous decision and joined Mne Lord (43 Cdo) as the second gold medallist of the week. 

In the next fight, Mne Gabriel Rands – Silva (42 Cdo) was up against a tough Heavyweight, also from the host nation, Terrance Rijsenbrij.  

Rands – Silva boxed at range against his stocky opponent and dominated the fight from the off, selecting excellent punches throughout the round, he tested the jaw of Rijsenbrij with regularity. So much so that he broke his opponent’s tooth and so the Dutch corner were forced into an early retirement. 

Unfortunately for Mne Grant Crookes (45 Cdo) there were no other entries at 80kg, so he instead experienced the event in the final action with three excellent rounds against the Dutch National Champion Daniell Minta. The pair gave a first-class exhibition of Elite Boxing, with both men fighting hard to the end, pleasing the watching audience. 

The final day would determine which national team would win the overall tournament and the Irish and UK teams were pretty much neck and neck, with all to play for. 

First up for his debut in the straight final was Mne Josh Harvey (45 Cdo) against the hugely experienced Jamie Long of Ireland. Long used his height and reach advantage to dominate the opening exchanges, backing the marine into the corner with relative ease. Harvey used this to his advantage on occasion as he countered from his crouched position to drive home looping hooks that made the Irishman back off. 

The second round was off to a flyer with Long really starting to dominate the show, he forced Harvey to cover up once too many times and Sgt Brookes, ably supported by assistant coach CSgt Birkes (CTCRM), decided they had seen enough and admitted defeat. 

AB Ollie Betts competed in the 86kg showdown against the tough Shane Cunningham of Ireland. Betts started slowly, to measure his opponent up, he allowed Cunningham to settle into a rhythm and his right hand landed far too easily. 

The second was much closer as Betts began to string some punches together, the Irishman remained dangerous with the rear hand, and he got into the round before the bell sounded. 

Betts put everything into the last round, knowing he had to take it to succeed, he did that indeed, however all too much too late and the victory went to Cunningham by a Unanimous decision. 

The final competition bout proved worthy of any bill when heavyweight Mne Gabs Rands – Silva (42 Cdo) came up against Irish champion Brian Kennedy. 

Rands - Silva took the first round well, beating his man in all the exchanges, drilling in his long and sturdy jab. Kennedy knew he had to up his game and came out fast for the second, a very tricky and fluid Boxer, Kennedy was getting on top but ‘Gabs’ put his foot down as the round concluded to leave the bout even. 

The final round was an epic, two big men going at it hammer and tongs for the entire three minutes, only pausing when pulled off one another. A resounding end to the fight saw Mne Rands – Silva run out winner on a Split Decision. 

Finally, Mne Crookes (45 Cdo) had another opportunity to hone his skill in a non-contested bout against Dutch Middleweight Martina Zion. Another useful package for Crooks who dominated the pace throughout the rounds against the slick Zion. 

Maj Tommy McPhee said, “A hugely successful week for all, we must thank our Officials Maj Robbie Robertson and Lt Cdr Graham Blick for their support and our Dutch hosts who were impeccable once more.”

The Results in Full:

Day 1
Mne Lord: Won Pts (U) v Viet Nguyen (Germany) – Gold to UK
Mne Slatter: Lost Pts (S) v Ben McCugh (Ireland) – Bronze to UK
AB Stuart McCrae: Lost Pts (U) v Yoku Hanson (Germany) – Bronze to UK
Mne Fanning: Won Pts (U) v Adam Kelly (Ireland)
AB Betts: Won (RSC 2) v Dean Grossegor (Holland)
Mne Tolhurst: Lost (RSC Cut) v Shane Cunningham (Ireland) - Bronze to UK

Day 2
Mne Fanning: Won Pts (U) v Martina Zion (Holland) – Gold to UK
Mne Rands – Silva: Won (RSC) v Terence Rijsenbrij (Holland)

Day 3
Mne Harvey: Lost (RSC) v Jamie Long (Ireland) – Silver to UK
AB Betts: Lost Pts (U) v Shane Cunningham (Ireland) – Silver to UK
Mne Rands – Silva: Won Pts (S) v Brian Kennedy (Ireland) – Gold to UK