After having his best year to date in the boxing ring, Chatham’s Enriko Itauma has another potential honour on the horizon. The 14-year-old triumphed at the EUBC Junior European Boxing Championships beating Armenia’s Hovahnnes Papazyan in the +80kg final. Despite it being his first year in the junior ranks, Enriko won gold with a unanimous points decision and extended his undefeated record to 11 bouts.
The talented youngster also claimed the national title this year and as a result of his success, has now been nominated for SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award, shortlisted in the top 10 from a raft of 1,000 young athletes supported by the charity across 60 sports.
The award was launched in 2006 to shine a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of Britain’s brightest young prospects, with Tom Daley, Courtney Tulloch, Amber Hill and Morgan Lake among the former winners.
Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, and five-time Paralympic para-equestrian champion Natasha Baker are among the panel of judges casting their eye over the nominees. Enriko, who is supported by SportsAid through the Backing The Best programme, was delighted to have been recognised.
"It’s a proud moment to be nominated because I’ve been working hard and all that training has finally paid off,” the teenager said. "I know Caroline Dubois who won the award last year, she went to the Youth Olympics with my brother and she told me all about SportsAid.
“It’s such an important organisation because being a boxer, it’s not always cheap with the gear that you have to buy. And then travelling up and down the country and across to different countries - it’s difficult.”
A talent for boxing runs in the Itauma family, as older brother Karol is the 2018 Youth Olympic Boys 81kg champion. The younger brother cites his sibling as an inspiration and - with the help of SportsAid - hopes to carve out a professional boxing career.
"This year has been my best year to date,” Enriko added. “I’ve been boxing for the past four or five years in total and one year I’ve won the national title and one year I’ve won the European title but this year I won both. For my age that’s the best I can do because I’m not old enough for the world championships or Youth Olympics yet.
"It’s difficult to explain how I felt winning the Europeans, I was over the moon and it was a good feeling that was out of this world. I would say my brother is a big inspiration, we push each other to the limits, and I don’t want to be second. But neither does he - so we push each other to the limits.
"In the future, I want to go to the World Championships and the Youth Olympics in the next couple of years but then I want to turn pro and become world champion.”
The winner of SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award will be revealed at the charity’s Celebrate the Next event, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, in London on Tuesday 19 November. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk for further information.