Boxing: Champ Jack Daniel plays the waiting game

Jack Daniel.
Jack Daniel.
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He’s a national record breaker yet he cannot claim exclusively to be the best boxer in his gym.

Then there’s another rival eclipsing him from the same city.

But regardless of what Oliver Simpson and Qais Ashfaq are up to, there is no denying that Swarcliffe’s Jack Daniel is definitely the toast of the town.

Daniel, 18, ended 2012 by being crowned National Schoolboy champion for an unprecedented fourth consecutive time as London favourite Gerry McDonagh was defeated in his own back yard.

It should mean automatic elevation to the international stage yet Daniel, a student at Notre Damn Sixth Form College, is having to play a waiting game with competition rife, not just in Britain but also in Leeds.

Among those currently keeping him out of the Team GB fray is Leeds’ Ashfaq – who like Daniel boxes at the 57kg category and who also has his eyes on the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Rio Olympics.

And even in Daniel’s own Kelly’s ABC gym there lies another star in recently-crowned World Youth champion Simpson, who, thankfully, boxes at 52kg weight.

Leeds United fan Daniel now expects Simpson to earn a national call with his club-mate hoping for likewise, but he faces tough competition including fellow city star Ashfaq.

But regardless of developments in the future, the four-times National Schoolboy champion is thrilled with his city’s boxing success story – and proud to be playing a record-breaking part.

“There’s some great fighters from Leeds,” Daniel told LS1.

“There’s people like Jack Bateson and Qais and Oliver – and me!

“Burmantofts obviously do quite well and then there is our club, Kelly’s, which is quite a small club. but to say we have a world champion and a national champion is some achievement for such a small gym.

“Now I’d love to get on the actual GB team but there’s other people on it, including Qais. He and I are the best in the country and we’re both from Leeds.

“the Olympics are over now so they might have a clear-out and, you never know, I might have a chance.”

After breaking a national record by winning four consecutive national schoolboy titles, you would certainly hope so.

And it doesn’t end there with the former Corpus Christi High School pupil having also scooped a junior ABA title in May 2011 which led to him representing England in the GB Youth Championships in Scotland.

Naturally, Daniel did not disappoint and walked away with gold though his amazing exploits should not surprise given his family tradition.

Uncle Michael Daniel and grandad John were both former national champions while dad and Kelly’s coach Paul also boxed for his country.

“I basically started when I was 11 because my dad used to box as did my whole family,” said Daniel, who has an older sister, Lauren, and a younger brother, George.

“My grandad boxed as did my uncle as well as my dad so I just got into it through them – it’s in the family.

“Both my uncle and my grandad were national champions but I’m not sure what the titles were called then – I think my uncle won the schoolboys and my grandad won in the army.

“My dad never won a national title but he boxed for England once in 1980, I think.

“My family are really supportive, they go to every fight and I am making them proud, I guess. That makes me want to do it even more.”

That motivation is working a treat with Daniel admitting that winning his fourth consecutive National Schoolboys title was the highlight of his career so far.

“Nobody has ever done that before so I was really chuffed,” said Daniel, who won’t be 19 until June.

But now comes the challenge to follow in the footsteps of three Leeds boxers with Daniel preparing for the step up to the adult ranks in the forthcoming senior ABAs.

Both Ashfaq and Bateson won senior ABA crowns in 2012 – one year on from fellow Leeds ace Damo Jones becoming the city’s first senior ABA champion since Levi Pattison in 1998.

Daniel is quietly optimistic about his prospects and whatever happens, given his Tennessee whiskey namesake, the Leeds teenager will always be a headline writer’s dream.

“I’ve had that all my life!” laughed Daniel, who hopes to study accountancy at university.

“It’s usually in college and stuff when they read your name out on the register and people say ‘that’s the best name I’ve ever heard’!

“I always just say my mum and dad must have been drunk when I was born. But they don’t even really drink the stuff, they just liked the name.”

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