Persistence pays off for Rothes boxer Corey Rizza as the Elgin Amateur Boxing Club 17-year-old becomes a British youth champion on his Scotland debut at the GB Junior and Youth Three Nations Championships in Barnsley
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“QUITTERS never win and winners never quit” is the boxing philosophy which has helped Moray teenager Corey Rizza become a British champion in the ring.
The words of Elgin Amateur Boxing Club head coach Paul ‘Ratch’ Gordon summed up the achievements of 17-year-old Rizza in landing a UK title on his Scotland international debut on Sunday.
The Rothes boxer has taken some close defeats on the chin in his amateur career and worked harder to gain two Scottish titles at junior and youth level.
The latter success this year finally gained him Scotland recognition and the chance to fight for his country in the GB Junior and Youth Three Nations Championships against England and Wales in Barnsley.
Rizza seized the opportunity with a terrific battling display to rock England's best youth boxer in his 75kg weight division, Qasim Khan, and earn a split decision verdict from the judges to claim the gold medal.
“I was fighting the English number one who was probably the favourite so I felt a lot of pressure going in there,” he said.
“I knew I had lost that round and I had to bring it back. It was my first time fighting outside Scotland and if I didn’t do well I might not get another chance to represent them.
“In the second round I started digging deep and landing more of my shots. My corner basically told me I needed to win the final round to win the fight.
“So I ended up wobbling him a few times with punches and I took away the third round clearly. “
“When it said split decision my heart dropped because you really don’t know if you’ve got it, it’s that close. So it was a great buzz when I had my arm raised.”
Rizza has been with Elgin ABC since the age of seven and his British title success could be his swansong, as he is set to move to university in the Central Belt and look for another club to train with.
The Speysider won his first Scottish title as a junior in 2019, fighting at 60kg where he found there was a shortage of opponents, particularly at district level.
Although his British win was at 75kg he had to step up to 80kg for his second Scottish title at youth level this year.
"It was a great feeling to get my Scottish title back and to know I would have another chance of getting the opportunity to represent Scotland.
"I won the opens at junior 60kg in 2019."
National champions put themselves in with a chance of international selection but Rizza explained how he missed out three years ago.
"The way Boxing Scotland do it, you have a box off with someone else in the same age bracket and I lost that so I didn't get the opportunity to box for Scotland at that time.
"Since there’s hardly anyone my weight around the north district, I’ve had to move up to 80kg and give away four or five kilos of weight to my opponent.
"I’ve definitely had to adapt."
His coach Gordon said: “Corey lost his first few fights but stuck at it, learned and won national medals at school, junior and now youth.
“His dream has always been to wear a Scotland vest and represent his country and on Sunday he finally achieved it.
“He’s been at the club for 10 years and it is evident that quitters never win and winners never quit.”
It is believed that Rizza is Elgin ABC’s first-ever British youth title winner.
“It’s a really good club,” he said. “It’s like a family and everyone supports each other especially in competitions.
“Ratch has been a massive influence for me. You don’t really want to disappoint him in the ring. He has been my coach for ten years and he knows me so well, and I trust him 100 per cent.
“He taught me to keep driving on, training hard and improving. It’s a process that you have to trust, if you keep sticking at it then you end up doing well.”
Rizza was disappointed that his club-mate Lukas Vaitekunas had to settle for a bronze medal in his junior 75kg bout after losing a thrilling bout against a more experienced English fighter.