Having successfully defended his BUCS Nationals title in Sheffield despite suffering from the after-effects of a broken hand, Wandsworth boxer Paul Orji already has his eyes set on making it a hat-trick next year.
Orji, a sports and exercise science student at the University of Brighton, joined more than 6,000 other students in heading to the Steel City over the weekend to take part in the UK’s largest annual multi-sport event.
The boxing action was taking place solely on Friday at Ponds Forge although Orji made sure to enjoy his moment in the spotlight.
The second year student, who started boxing at Earlsfield Boxing Club, was competing in the +91kg category and saw off Sheffield student K Lygdas in the final bout.
The result was all the more impressive considering the 22-year-old had broken his right hand in the run up to the event, and Orji admitted he had been forced to adapt his approach in the ring.
“I had to fight with just my left really which was really challenging but I managed to do it and I’m really happy with the win,” he said.
“It feels great to be a BUCS champion, I have been training really hard but I broke my right hand a few weeks ago.
“It wasn’t a bad break but it meant I was really limited with how much I could use my right hand so it was challenging but I moved well and used my left.
“I let my right go a little bit and I caught him but by the third I couldn’t throw it at all because it was hurting a lot.
“He’s a big guy but I moved well and that is what boxing is about and I moved around and did what I had to do to win.
“I won it last year so two years in a row is great and I want to come back next year and make it three.”
Originally from Wandsworth, Orji trains at Earlsfield Boxing Club when he is not at university – the same gym which has seen the likes of Commonwealth and European Games champion Joe Joyce pass through its doors.
And Orji admits he would love nothing more than to try and emulate his hero.
“Right now I’m 22 and I am just looking forward to bulking up and seeing what I can do,” he added.
“I don’t want to be that old guy who regrets that I could have been a boxer and done something great so I am just going to give it my 100%.
“My first gym was Earlsfield which has a lot of good boxers and great trainers.
“Joe Joyce is someone I would love to catch up with. He is way ahead of me, levels ahead but if I put the work in and stay disciplined I would like to get to where he is and maybe surpass it.”
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports. Partnered by Deloitte, BUCS supports athletes from a grass roots level through to Commonwealth and Olympic Games hopefuls www.bucs.org.uk.