Knockout year for Team Block boxing academy

BLOCK BUSTERS -- four members of the Team Block academy (from left), James Savage, Russ Cartlidge, Jamie Thomas and coach Shane McPhilbin.
BLOCK BUSTERS -- four members of the Team Block academy (from left), James Savage, Russ Cartlidge, Jamie Thomas and coach Shane McPhilbin.

If the Dispatch still handed out its Sports Team Of The Year award, a boxing academy in Hucknall would surely go close to winning it.

For Team Block, run by former British cruiserweight champion Shane McPhilbin, has enjoyed a knockout year, with all its boxers undefeated.

The stable, which comprises 14 fighters from the Hucknall, Bulwell and Kimberley area, fights on the semi-professional Organised International Boxing Asociation (OIBA) circuit.

Although not recognised by the world’s official boxing bodies, the OIBA gives up-and-coming fighters a semi-professional step en route to possible professional careers.

Fights are scheduled to a structure format, and of about 40 bouts contested by Team Block in 2013, they have won the lot!

“We have had an outstanding season,” says a proud McPhilbin (27), whose nickname in the ring was Mr Block.

“We even have our own OIBA champion in Russ Cartlidge, who won the lightweight title in March after beating Kev Weakes, of The Bronx gym in Nottingham.”

In fact, Cartlidge, who is 32, defended his title three times, all by a knockout, and travelled the country, winning all seven of his fights. He is hoping for an even bigger year in 2014.

Other fighters to have made their mark include 22-year-old welterweight Jack McCormack, who was featured in last week’s Dispatch, and light-middleweight Anthony Johnson.

“Both lads had breaks from boxing because of injuries, but both have made immediate statements this year,” says McPhilbin.

“Johnson came back with a brilliant 25-second knockout against the bigger Ryan Hennessy, of Liverpool, followed by a third-round stoppage of Mansfield’s Joe Brailsford.

“McCormack, who was out of boxing for three years because of a hernia and a broken thumb, bounced back with the quickest knockout of 2013 when he beat Antony May, of the Bulwell Fight Factory, in only 13 seconds, dropping May with his first punch. He also notched up two more first-round knockouts.”

Team Block also brought fresh talent through during 2013, including cruiserweight James Savage, of Bulwell, who defeated the experienced Chris Andrews in his first contest.

“It was a brutal war from start to finish and was voted bout of the night,” McPhilbin continues.

“Both lads put so much into the fight and both came out bruised. But Savage was just too strong and used his jab perfectly.”

Team Block’s other successful boxers include Tom Jayes, Jay Parkin, welterweight Jamie Thomas, heavyweight Lee Baverstock, cruiserweight Danny Johnson, middleweight Justin Marriott, cruiserweight Steanie Fletcher, middleweight Terry Fletcher and middleweights Mark Lovett and James Mallet.

“Jayes was only able to get out once this year but won in style against Chesterfield’s Dean Ragen,” says McPhilbin.

“Parkin dug deep in the style of a lionheart to beat Tom Sobers for a second time, while Thomas, who is known as Midge, proved that size doesn’t matter.

“He won his fight with some big right-hands to show you should never judge a book by its cover.”

Team Block even boasts a capable female fighter in light-middlewight Tania Lockhart.

“Tania pulled off two great victories -- one against old rival Gemma Price, which had the whole arena on its feet, followed by another brilliant performance a week later.”

Much credit for the year must also go to the popular McPhilbin, who is relishing his new coaching challenge.

The Bulwellian caused a sensation when landing the British title in January 2012 in only the tenth professional contest of his career.

He lost it amid much controversy two months later, and was then outclassed by Jon Lewis Dickinson in October 2012 when given a chance to regain it.

McPhilbin has not fought since and has no plans on the horizon. But as a coach, he is causing quite a stir.