Rhondda AM Leanne Wood has hailed the achievements of a young amateur boxer from her home town who has just won the British title.
Rhys Edwards, who has just turned 17, won the under 19s British lightweight title over the weekend after winning fights in a tournament in Rotherham against two tough and more experienced English opponents in Mark Chamberlain in the semi-final and Ben Marksby in the final.
Rhys is trained by his father, Mansel, and John Wynne at the Rhondda Amateur Boxing Club on Hendrecafn Road in Penygraig. The gym is familiar with success since Rhys has already won the Welsh title and his younger brother Iestyn is also a Welsh title holder.
The middleweight professional boxer Liam Williams, who lost in controversial fashion earlier this month against Liam Smith, is also a product of the gym.
Ms Wood, who lives close to the gym, said the title win was something that the gym, Penygraig and the whole of the Rhondda could be proud of.
“Rhys and the team behind him have shown what is possible through hard work and dedication,” said Leanne. “He came up against the best opponents the UK could offer and he triumphed, despite being younger and less experienced.
“All this was achieved as a result of hours and hours of hard work in a small boxing gym in the Rhondda. It’s a remarkable story that deserves to be celebrated not just locally, but right across Wales. I know Rhys’s dad Mansel, and the rest of the family, are very proud….and rightly so.”
She added: “If Rhys, and his brother Iestyn, carry on with the same dedication they have shown so far, they will go far in this sport. I wish them all the best and hope they can carry on putting the Rhondda on the sporting map.”
Mansel Edwards said: “We couldn’t be any prouder as a family. He has worked hard and he is a good kid. I want to thank all the boys in the gym for supporting Rhys and I also want to thank the local businesses who have helped him out with sponsorship.
“I also want to pay tribute to John. His goal was to train a British champion and he has achieved that now after more than 40 years.”