A sports science student at Teesside University is hoping for glory after making the final of a national boxing competition.
Louis Cunningham, 20, saw off stiff competition in the regional final and then further national rounds of the Amateur Boxing Association’s Elite Championship to set-up a head to head final against London All Stars’ Kelvin Fawaz in the light-middleweight division.
Louis, currently in his third year of an applied sports science degree, is a member of Wellington Amateur Boxing Club based off Albert Road in Middlesbrough and is also part of the University’s Elite Athlete Scheme.
The scheme supports students who are athletes at international level or with exceptional international potential. The elite athletes will gain access to state of the art equipment and expertise, as well as support in areas such as; physiological and biomechanical assessment and training, monitoring of training loads, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy and sports psychology.
Louis said: “The scheme at Teesside has been invaluable to my development as a boxer. It compliments my training at Wellington as the facilities and expert analysis they offer give me a different and more scientific approach.
“I’ve also been able to apply knowledge I’ve gained from my training at the University to my academic work, and helping me to understand my body a lot more. I’m delighted to be able to follow my boxing dream, but with the support I’m receiving from Teesside, I don’t have to compromise my education for that.”
Louis started boxing when he was 13 following in the footsteps of his dad and coach, Frankie Cunningham who also boxed for Wellington ABC.
“Most lads start boxing at 11, so I had a bit of catching up to do. After winning my first national title in 2005, I was boxing for England by 2009 and have since taken part in, and won, both British and English University Championships. If I win the Elite Championship final, I’ll be put in the national pool to be selected for Team GB, so I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got.”
Matt Wright, Sports Development Officer (Elite Sport) at the University is one of the key support figures for Louis.
He said: “I am so pleased for Louis, he was unfortunate to lose early in last year’s championships, effectively ending ambitions for London 2012, but he responded so positively. If Louis wins the title this year, it will be a culmination of 13 months of detailed preparation and hard work, in which time he has fully utilised the expert sports science support provided through the scheme.”
On top of daily training, fighting in competitions and studying, Louis still finds time to give talks to local schools about his experiences and also to the University’s Future Champions programme, created for children aged 12-18.
He said: “Matt has helped me to be able to pass on my knowledge and experience to younger people, something I love doing. To be a part of Future Champions and to also help devise training regime for the Centre for Excellence has been extremely rewarding. I’m also volunteering at Freebrough Academy, so my schedule is jam-packed.
“I don’t want to just be a typical boxer and I’m keen to gain as much work experience to help my career once I hang up the gloves. It’s a lot to juggle all at once, but that’s life and thanks to Teesside University I feel like a Team GB athlete already.”
Matt added: “Studying, volunteering and working two jobs alongside his huge training load, Louis is an inspiration and a real credit to the University.”