Former world champion Maurice Hope’s nephew to box for Antigua

Justice Brooks (right) in action for Omnibus ABC

Justice Brooks (right) in action for Omnibus ABC - Credit: Archant

Hackney’s latest boxing talent Justice Brooks will make his international debut this weekend when he steps into the ring for Antigua against Dominica on Saturday.

Brooks is aiming to follow in his uncle Maurice Hope’s footsteps in succeeding as a professional and, while the 18-year-old from Clapton Pond is still some way off emulating the former world light-middleweight champion, he has all the attributes of a future star.

The Leyton Sixth Form A-Level student headed west for his welterweight fight this weekend full of confidence under the guidance of trainer Tony Cesay, and told the Gazette of the day he received an unexpected phone call.

“It was a huge honour to be asked to represent Antigua, and I just had to accept the challenge,” Brooks said.

“I’m not aware of whom I’m fighting against – it’s my first international fight so whatever happens it’ll be a huge learning experience.

“Even if I don’t win I’m sure I will have other opportunities. I’ve won four of six amateur bouts and they were all big learning curves for me – as was the Haringey Box Cup. I lost on a split decision, but it was close and I thought I’d won.”

The trip to Dominica will no doubt be another eye-opener for Brooks, who took up boxing aged 12 after gaining inspiration from his famous uncle, who went on to coach Antigua’s national boxing team.

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Hope’s nephew is tipped from greatness, with his natural ability shining through from an early age, seen in his nimble feet and lightning speed.

As regards his trainer, Brooks is in good hands, with Cesay having helped to nurture the talented Ohara Davies, the current English lightweight champion.

“My uncle is fantastic – I look up to him,” added Brooks. “If I put it in now, I should become a world champion like my uncle. He set the milestone for me so it’s only a matter of time.

“Tony has been like a father figure to me. In my eyes, he’s the best coach in the world – he pushes me and gets the best out of me.”

Orthodox, quick and naturally talented, Brooks is a young fast fighter who has shown an appetite for points at amateur level.

He has made sacrifices along the way, training five times a week at Hackney Downs, his local park, while his friends have enjoyed all the distractions that most 18-year-olds have on the doorstep in the capital.

“It’s all worth it if it means getting to the top,’ Brooks continued. “My mum said I needed a good outlet as I was very hyper as a kid – she liked a way for me to be disciplined.

“I didn’t want to do it at first, but I found a passion for it. Boxing has taught me new skills and I can juggle different things now.

“I’ll be nervous but hopefully this will open doors for me; I’ve just turned senior but I have my sights set on future Commonwealth Games and representing my country at the Olympics. With plenty of hard work, I know anything is possible.”

With such a level head, Brooks should have nothing to fear.

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