With boxing ‘in the blood’ it was always a case of when rather than if Hope Price would grab the headlines. Lee Sobot reports.
LEEDS’ latest boxing protege Ivan ‘Hopey’ Price is well aware of the city’s recent ring success stories.
As multiple champion Josh Warrington eyes Lee Selby’s world title belt, Qais Ashfaq is leading the Leeds charge for another Olympic gold medal, four years on from the glories of Nicola Adams at London 2012.
If Price has his way, the Hunslet boxer is next with all eyes on June’s European Junior Championships in Hungary on a long-term route to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Price, 16, is the latest young star to emerge from the Hunslet Club having enjoyed a sensational last year which began with a statement of intent at the 2015 Junior ABAs.
Opting to bypass the National Cadettes Championship and take on foes of a higher age, the 46kg fighter was only edged out on points in the national final.
Back against fighters his age, the teenager is now a Junior ABA and Tri-Nations champion, targeting gold at next month’s European Juniors.
But that, it is envisaged, will be just the tip of the iceberg for the fighter who has born in Peterborough, home town of mum Charlotte, but shares the same ‘Hope’ name as his Sheffield-raised boxing coach dad.
The boxing connections don’t end there with Price’s cousin Michael Maguire being a former amateur world no 1 – with Maguire having put Peterborough on the map by winning 12 national titles.
Now Price hopes to do even bigger and better things for Leeds.
Assessing the recent boxing success of Leeds in an interview with the YEP, Price pondered: “There’s been Nicola Adams and Josh and Qais and Jack and looking back when they were younger, most of them won all that I am winning now.
“Hopefully I am going in the same direction as them.
“Hopefully I can get to go to the Olympics myself. Maybe 2020 or maybe if I don’t reach 2020 then 2024 when I’ll be 24.
“If I could do that it would mean everything really. It would be a really big achievement.
“Not many people can say they have been to the Olympics – it’s one of the biggest things you could possibly go to.
“I want to go pro as well and be a world champion as well because my cousin, Michael Maguire from Peterborough, was a pro and he was ranked number one amateur in the world when he was my age.
“He has always been sending me texts and good luck and things. He won the ABAs three times and he ended up going to Europe and winning European gold himself.”
A European gold is now the next gong on Price’s mind with the youngster set to fly out to Hungary next month for a competition which begins on June 18, competing against 46kg 15 and 16-year-olds born in 2000 and 2001.
The Hunslet Club boxer, who turned 16 in March, is looking to seal a quick-fire hat-trick after being crowned 46kg champion of both the Junior ABAs and Tri Nations and is quietly confident that his winning run will continue.
“You could end up having six or seven fights in the European Championships because it’s over ten days with every national champion in Europe,” said Price.
“Hopefully I will go there and go for gold.
“We had to go on a European selection camp which was basically sparring and doing set stuff for the England coaches.
“I got picked so I must have done something right. I’ve never boxed at European or World level. My first fight for England was against Scotland and then obviously in the Tri Nations I boxed against Wales and Scotland. Now this is European level but I am going for gold.
“I have seen the Russian kid who won the European gold last year and from what I have seen of him, I do reckon I can honestly beat him.
“I am going out there quite confident to be honest.
“A kid I beat also got bronze at the Europeans – getting beaten by a Russian – and I beat him a lot easier than the Russian did so it’s just given me confidence.
“If he can get a bronze and I beat them then I should be aiming for a medal – going for gold.”
The boxer, who has been educated at home in Cookridge, is also determined to bring back another title not just to Leeds but also to his Hunslet Boxing Club which is on the crest of a wave following the recent success of Price’s club-mate Douglas Pattison.
Price is coached by his dad, also called Ivan Hope, and has been sparring with Liverpool’s Youth National champion Connor Butler, two years his senior.
Essentially, the only education Price is interested in is boxing.
He explained: “For the past three or four years I have been home-schooled so I just do my stuff at home. But I just revolve most of it around the boxing really.
“That’s what I want to do and I have been doing it since God knows.
“My dad has been training me since I was two. I started at Hunslet when I was five and now I am 16 so I’ve been there 11 years.
“My dad used to box in Sheffield – where he is from – but my dad knew that in Leeds, years ago, Hunslet was the gym that was known for producing national champions and good boxers.
“That’s the gym he wanted me to go to because he wanted me to get schooling from being young so that’s were he took me.
“Obviously, over the past few years you have had the likes of Qais Ashfaq, Jack Bateson and Burmantofts this and Burmantofts that. But this is putting Hunslet back on the map really.
“Me and Douglas have won national titles in the last few years and we are going for Europeans and it just shows the cycle goes around.
“Years ago we had champions and now we are getting champions again. There’s a lot us coming through really.”
Indeed, proof of that even comes within the Price family.
The Hunslet champion has two younger brothers – 13-year-old Ellis and six-year-old Morales – and already both are showing strong signs of following in their older brother’s footsteps.
Price explained: “I’ve got two little brothers and one of them, Ellis, is in the Schoolboy Championships now and he’s through to the national quarter-finals.
“He has just won the Yorkshire Championships last week so he’s trying to follow on, and then my dad is a coach.
“The younger one, he’s called Morales after a Mexican boxer. He’s just starting now and our club’s CEO Dennis Robbins took a liking to him. He’s even boxing now at his age. He runs up and down with my belt and he keeps telling us he’s the best one out of the three.”