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ABA recognise Hammers’ stalwart with ‘Coach of the Year’ accolade

11:22 14 June 2012

Mickey May (left) pictured with West Hams current London ABA champion Lucien Reid

Mickey May (left) pictured with West Hams current London ABA champion Lucien Reid

Archant

After 30 years as trainer at West Ham Boxing Club, producing well over 100 national champions, Mickey May has been named as ‘Coach of the Year’ by ABA England.

The year 2012 is proving special for the veteran coach who earlier had lunch with the Queen and next month will be carrying the Olympic torch in Greenwich – continuing the link between the West Ham club and the Games which comes to the borough next month.

He has served the Hammers well, building his chain of champions over the years, starting out as the trainer at the club nursery before progressing to the head junior coach and then taking over as head coach in 1999.

He still keeps in touch with many of those champions he has developed over the past 30 years and they still praise his ability in the gym and work in their corner.

Sammy Tokeley was his first national champion at the club, with many more to follow during the 1980s and 1990s when May became recognised as one of the top star-makers in amateur boxing.

The coach’s junior record was impressive enough, developing winners including Stevie Roberts and Kevin Lear, who later both went on to claim world titles in the professional ranks.

However, it was no secret that prior to his appointment as head coach, the club had been searching for success on the ABA senior title trail since Mark Kaylor and Nigel Benn claimed their awards in Hammers colours during the eighties.

That title wait was ended by Matthew Marsh in 2001 with his ABA flyweight victory, while Kevin Mitchell added another in 2003 before Marsh repeated his triumph the following year.

Then 2010 brought another West Ham winner when Dudley O’Shaughnessy, who had been at the club from the age of nine, claimed the national 67kg award at York Hall.

Alongside the many National Schools’ Junior ABA and Boys Club champions May has produced over the years, he has also played his part in building a band of quality trainers at the Black Lion gym.

These including Johnny Eames and the Tokeley clan Lee, Joe and Danny through to current club coaches Terry Abbott, Mickey Driscoll and Brian O’Shaughnessy.

They have played their part in the proud record at the Plaistow club alongside the competition secretary, the late Jimmy Murphy, an astute operator who developed a special bond with May during their rewarding 25-year partnership.

The trainer, a first-class disciplinarian with a no-nonsense approach, insists he gets his biggest thrill when a prospect he has seen develop at the club lifts his first national title.

Club secretary Lianne Jameson praises his ability to motivate his boxers to reach the peak of their ability, and his frank admission that: “I don’t want the members to like me, but respect me.”

As England’s ‘Coach of the Year’, he has certainly earned the respect at the West Ham club and throughout amateur boxing.

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