With the 2018 Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Scotland’s boxing team descended on Kirkcaldy last week to kick-start final preparations.
The country’s medal hopefuls were put through their paces by Boxing Scotland’s national coach and performance director, Mike Keane, at his Kingdom Boxing Club premises on Seaforth Place.
Mike formed the Kingdom club back in 1998, producing a number of British champions, which led to a call-up to international coaching before evenutally being employed in his current role by Boxing Scotland.
He is preparing Scotland’s top amateur fighters for the Gold Coast Games, which take place in Australia this April, and brought them to his recently refurbished home club for their first training camp of the new year.
“It was a general conditioning camp,” Mike told the Press.
“They’d had a break over Christmas and it was just some general training to get them back up to a reasonable level of fitness before they go to next stage of sparring.
“We’ve had them here many times before big tournaments and it works well.
“The club has been done up to a reasonable level with new windows, doors, plumbing, lighting, changing rooms and has all been clad with insulation.
“It’s looking really good and the underneath of club, which was derelict for 30 years, has been renovated and made into a strength and conditioning studio, which should be ready to open in February.
“It just adds another part of the gym that will be very beneficial to the boxers.
“It’s great for Kirkcaldy to have a totally different thing from what everyone else if offering with a boxing club and fitness studio all under one roof.”
After finishing in Kirkcaldy, the Scotland squad travel down to Sheffield for a seven-day sparring camp later this month, then onto Ukraine for more high-quality sparring, before jetting to the Gold Coast on March 15.
Mike’s challenge is to better the medal tally achieved at the Glasgow Games in 2014, where new records were set with two gold and two bronze medals.
This time the target is five medals, which Mike believes is possible with a favourable draw.
“We’ve set the bar at high at five,” he said.
“It’s certainly achievable, and we’ll prepare as best we can, but sometimes it depends on the luck of the draw.
“There’s no seeding so if you meet the gold or silver medal boxer in the first tie then it makes it very difficult.
“We felt Northern Ireland got a fantastic draw in Glasgow and if we’d got the draw they got, we’d probably have got a medal tally that would never have been overtaken in my lifetime.
“They are all potential medallists, but some of them will probably need a more favourable draw than others.”
There are 10 boxers in Mike’s team, nine male and one female, although this could be extended when the Commonwealth Games Federation releases extra spaces in February.
The Scottish Commonwealth Boxing team is: Aqueel Ahmed (Dundee), Mitchell Barton (Berwick upon Tweed), Nathaniel Collins (Glasgow), John Docherty (Montrose), Scott Forrest (Edinburgh), Vicky Glover (Glasgow), Sean Lazzerini (Glasgow), Reece McFadden (Motherwell), Robbie McKechnie (Kilbrinie), Stephen Newns (Cleland).