This week Bill Carne visited Merlins Bridge Amateur Boxing Club to chat to Dylan Davies, one of their promising young boxers who is already the proud owner of two Welsh boxing vests for winning Welsh titles...

Dylan Davies is a quiet, modest and unassuming teenager from St Davids School but out him in a boxing ring and he is such a good boxer that he has already twice earned a Welsh vest as schoolboy champion at his weight.

Now 15, Dylan began in earnest at Merlins Bridge Amateur Boxing Club under the watchful eye of Graham Brockway almost three years ago after previously receiving some tuition in the Noble Art from Paul Morris in Mathry.

Like a lot of youngsters, Dylan had watched, and loved the ‘Rocky’ films and in a chance conversation at home found out that his sister’s godmother’s husband was Paul, who had been a useful boxer in his day. So Dylan popped along to Mathry and started some basic work in Paul’s garage, which doubled up as a gym which had a speed ball and punch bag.

Paul set Dylan on the road to mastering the basic skills and then suggested he should join Graham at Merlin’s Bridge. Dylan’s father Benny took him into see Graham and so began the regular trips with from St Davids so he could train, with mum Sian an excellent taxi driver when dad can’t go!

“Mum and dad have been brilliant,” he told us, “after I took to the training straight away. Graham is a brilliant coach and there is a great atmosphere there.”

“I go to the gym every Monday and Wednesday and we warm up with lots of skipping, followed by shadow boxing, speed work, pad work, and we use a medicine ball to build up core strength.

“It is hard work but I enjoy every minute of it, especially the sparring with other good boxers like Micky McDonagh and Sion Lewis, which is a good way to finish off the sessions.”

Not content with two nights per week training he now also goes to the special Sunday morning ‘Bristol Trader Steps Challenge’ with other experienced and committed boxers like Charlene Jones, Micky McDonagh and Sion Lewis.

The steps were originally designed to take weary walkers from Quay Street up to St Thomas Green but Mr Brockway has designed his own brand of torture which has his protégés running up and down them three times – and that is just the warm-up!

Then there’s other versions of the challenge which are so good for leg-work and cardio-vascular exercise.

“It is a tough test,” admitted Dylan, “but I know it is doing me good so I’ll carry on doing it.”

All the hard work has certainly paid off because Dylan is already the proud owner of two Welsh vests after finishing champion in his weight and age category for the past two seasons.

In his first final, which took place at Gilfach Goch, Dylan boxed really well to beat Jack Reynolds from Cardiff.

“I was very nervous,” admitted Dylan, “because of the crowd as we walked in but Graham calmed me down with some good advice, especially between rounds.

“When the decision was announced and the referee raised my arm I was thrilled, and so were my parents and Graham.”

With that experience tucked under his belt he returned for another final a year later to take on Dylan Williams, of Gilfach Goch, in the final at Cardiff.

Again he boxed really well to earn a clear points verdict and now the two Welsh vests have been framed and adorn Dylan’s bedroom wall!

Dylan has also represented West Wales against their counterparts from South Wales and this bout marked another stage in his development because he beat Ryan Lewis (Cardiff) in a clash of styles where he refused to let Lewis take control.

He has now had 15 bouts and there are nine wins so far, with most of his defeats coming where his opponent was boxing in his club’s own show. His first bout seems ages ago now but he remembers losing to Mujachid Hassan from Cardiff, in a show at Cardigan.

Graham had previously given him two exhibition bouts to get acclimatised, at Tenby and Swansea, which helped him adjust to the whole atmosphere of a night at the boxing, including large, noisy crowds and that long wait before one is finally called into the ring.

Dylan’s latest bout was a couple of weeks ago when he boxed Joe Evans on a show in Swansea. He had previously beaten Joe so was understandably disappointed, but philosophically accepted the verdict.

“I thought I had done really well against him, as I had done before, but it is definitely harder boxing someone at a show near his home club.

“But I hope to box Joe again at our home show in Letterston later this month – and I’ll be hoping to do well there!”

Outside of his boxing, Dylan used to play rugby as a scrum half at St Davids RFC, where his dad Benny was the coach, and also helped out in school, where the coaches were Mr Colin Reynolds and Mr Bradley Davies, who were always there to encourage him.

“Mrs Rachel Thomas has always given me every encouragement and our head teacher, Mr David Haynes, always asks me how things are!”

Dylan also played tennis in a quartet that included Marinus Pietersen, Sam and Lewys Thomas which won the county schools’ tournament for their age group – a different cry from his boxing skills!

Ask Dylan about his ambitions and he would understandably love to win a third Welsh title, and perhaps a British title after that.

“I would best of all love to compete for Wales at a Commonwealth Games and although I know it is a long way off I can only give it my best shot.”

Graham Brockway is very pleased at Dylan’s progress and told us,

“There is no doubt that Dylan has improved no end and he is a pleasure to have in our squad as an example to others of how to train hard.

“He is a talented young boxer, with his feet firmly on the ground, and we are going to hear a lot more about him yet.”

High praise indeed from the county’s top boxing man – and well deserved by Dylan Davies for all his total commitment to his chosen sport!