Boxing: Boxing dresses up for knock-out night

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The Independent Online
Amateur boxing can seem to provide a healthier version of a sport whose professional face is too often tarnished by greed and cynical match- making. At the Hilton Hotel, London, on Monday this week England's team took on the United States and convincingly defeated them 5-2.

The occasion was a chance for devotees of the sport to enjoy high-class bouts in an atmosphere of some refinement. Outside the ring, formal dinner jackets were the order of the night; inside it, the boxers shook hands with their opponents before raising their fists.

The highlight was the victory of the England light-flyweight Ian Napa over America's Karoz Norman, which was achieved despite a two-point deduction for careless use of the head. Zimbabwe-born Napa, aged 19, boxes out of the Crown and Manor Club in Islington and a bright future is predicted for him.

The watching Charlie Magri, who boxed at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, said: "There's a lot more to come out of Ian. I've seen so much of him that I think he's going to go all the way. This wasn't his best night, yet he still beat the American No 1 comfortably."

England's success was their first over the States since 1982 and should give them great encouragement as they prepare for next year's European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

n Copies of these photographs - and any others by the Independent's sports photographers David Ashdown, Peter Jay and Robert Hallam - can be ordered by telephoning 0171-293-2534.

Food for thought: Ringside aficionados (top) assess the action at the Hilton Hotel in London during Monday's international; (right) the opening ceremony, during which the teams line up on opposite sides of the ring and each boxer shakes hands with his opponent; (bottom right) Britain's featherweight Stephen Bell (left) waits to attack in his points victory over Reynaldo Ferrer; (bottom left) a formal evening brought out the sport's connoisseurs including (top) the football agent, Eric Hall, and (below left) the former British heavyweight champion, Gary Mason. Meanwhile (below right) the former world middleweight champion, Alan Minter, enjoyed the atmosphere with (right) Charlie Magri, the former world flyweight champion.