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“Gutted” Alanna Nihell targets Commonwealths following Ulster walkover

Belfast lightweight Alanna Nihell claimed another Ulster title at the weekend without throwing a punch.

The Eastside fighter received a walkover, being the only entry at 60kg, and did not get to fight at the famous Ulster Hall venue.

A disappointed Nihell was at the venue on Friday to pick up her title, and has already recalibrated her focus towards the big goal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

A bronze medal at the Games in Glasgow back in 2014, under her maiden name Audley-Murphy, the 32 year old is hopeful that she will be selected for the tournament next April on the Gold Coast.

One half, alongside world champion Katie Taylor, of the first ever officially sanctioned women’s bout in Ireland way back in 2001, the experienced Nihell had been looking forward to something new at the weekend.

She told Irish-Boxing.com that “I’m just gutted that I’m not boxing, because I’ve never boxed in the Ulster Hall. I remember bringing my brother [welterweight pro Lewis Crocker] here in 2005 when [Ryan] Lindberg and [Carl] Frampton boxed each other.”

“There are girls about, but no-one entered, I was surprised.”

“I’m so gutted I’m not fighting, but it’s one step closer to Commonwealth Games selection for me. I’m confident that I’ll be selected, being a past medal winner.”

“It’s all good, training is going well, and I’m looking forward to the announcement.”

A corporal in the 27 Regiment of the Royal Logistic Corps in the British Army, Nihell is based in Aldershot most of the year.

The role supports her boxing career, and Nihell regularly competes in multi-nations tournaments and Elite fight nights. The veteran fighter explains how “it pays the bills. When I boxed years ago, I didn’t get funding, there was no funding about then. I’ve been in the army ten years and it has helped me in that sense.”

“I was getting no funding and training full time, it was quite hard to keep up, and that was one of the reasons why I joined – I knew with my past boxing with Ireland that straight away they’d be straight behind me ”

An EU bronze medalist over a decade ago, Nihell is feeling better than ever ahead of a busy period for her career.

As well as the Commonwealths, next year has European and World Championships, and the Ulsterwoman has her eyes on the Irish lightweight spot currently held by Kelly Harrington.

“I’m coming home for them [Irish Seniors] as well, definitely,” stated Nihell.

“You’ve got all the wee girls, Kelly Harrington, Amy Broadhurst is coming back, girls who are going to give me competition, which is what I need in preparation for the Games. There are a lot of girls at the weight – it being an Olympic weight. It’s perfect for me and it makes me a train a little bit harder because I know the competition will be stepped up a level, so I will have to step up a level.”

“I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in a long time. I’m 32, but I’m looking after myself. I’m back down at 60kg, after the [2014] Games I went back up, but this time, making 60kg, I’m doing it differently.”

“I’m more disciplined, and that’s what you have to be because when you get older you can’t be cutting corners and that’s why, this time, I’m feeling confident going to the Commonwealth Games.”

Australia is the main target – and the location of the tournament adds extra significance for Nihell who explained how “the girl who beat me [in 2014] was the Australian champion [Shelley Watts], so to go there and box the Australian on her home turf is the goal. I definitely do have the potential to win it.”

“I’m confident that, if I keep do what I’m doing, there’s no reason why I can’t come back with a gold medal from the Gold Coast.”

“I know in myself, I can guarantee, that I’ll bring back a medal. I’m confident going in. Fingers crossed I do get selected and I do get to go to the Gold Coast and bring home a medal – and better myself and bring home a gold.”


Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie