A PAIR of talented young amateur boxers from Shirley have become national champions after they successfully saw off their competition to earn the titles.

Alishan Anwar, 19, and Hugo Searle, 16, train at Inner City boxing gym in Southampton and were both crowned winners at the National Development Championships on October 22.

Anwar won the senior under 63.5kg title with Searle winning the junior under 60kg competition.

The two fighters won several fights over multiple weekends to achieve their success in what they hope is an early step in a successful career in the sport.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Anwar said: "It is a dream come true. I have always been around boxing from a young age.

"I train three or four times a week at the gym, but I train outside of the gym as well. For me, the goal is to go professional. But obviously, I need to just take it one step at a time.

"The ultimate goal is to then become a world champion.

"Inner City has put in a lot of work to help me stay disciplined and humble. I feel like those were the kinds of things that I was lacking. It gave me a routine as well - they pushed me to my limits."

Searle revealed that his passion for the sport has grown ever since he began training and he is glad the hard work has paid off.

He said: "It means everything really because of all the work that we have put in. I got into boxing to lose some weight at the local gym and the passion grew more and more.

"I was training somewhere else a little bit before but then I came here, and I got my amateur card. Inner City started my amateur career and helped me develop as a fighter and a person.

"It has helped me get to the next level to win the championships."

The 16 year old would also love to become world champion one day but he believes that it is important to take it one step at a time and not skip any corners.

"You have to be realistic," he added. "I just need to keep taking it as far as I can go and see where I end up."

Fred Piccinino, who is a coach at the gym, admitted he is extremely proud of the pair for getting the recognition that they deserve.

He revealed: "Words cannot express how proud I was when both of their hands got lifted.

"It has to be said that in a way, I did not doubt it because they were so prepared, and we put in so much strategic work over the last year for these particular championships.

"It has all culminated to this point. The preparation to this point has been step-by-step. In some sense, I never doubted that they were going to do it."