Napa announces his retirement after 15-year boxing career
Clapton boxer hanging up his gloves and plans for a training licence
Clapton’s former British and European bantamweight champion Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa has revealed to the Gazette that he has retired from boxing.
Born in Zimbabwe on March 14, 1978 Napa arrived in England in 1991, where his mother had taken up residency in Stoke Newington.
A keen footballer, in 1993, Napa had a trial with Arsenal only to be turned down because of his height.
That year, Napa made the decision to switch sports and took up boxing, joining the Crown & Manor Boxing Club in Wiltshire Row, Hoxton.
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While he was at this club, Napa won two national titles and in 1996 he took home the boys Class C under-48kg crown at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane.
In 1997, Napa entered the ABA National Senior light-flyweight competition and returned as champion when he outpointed Frankie Norton from the New Astley BC, Newmarket at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, nine days before the Hackney boxer’s 19th birthday.
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In November of that year, Napa represented England against America at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, where he outpointed B Martinez, being one of only two English winners on the night.
Napa turned professional in 1998 with his amateur trainer Steve Kipps and signed up with promoter Frank Warren.
This was Kipps’ second boxer from the Crown & Manor club to turn professional, as Jason Matthew also won an ABA national senior title in 1996 under his guidance.
In the same year that Napa turned professional, Matthew went on to win the WBO World middleweight title.
Napa made his professional debut in Liverpool against Nick Tooley with a points victory.
After winning his first eight pro bouts, in which he claimed the Southern Area flyweight title, Napa was matched against Jason Booth for a British flyweight title fight at York Hall, Bethnal Green, losing on points over 12 rounds.
Napa had previously outpointed another Booth brother, Nicky in his second contest.
In his 11th bout, Napa was matched against Peter Culshaw for the World Boxing Union flyweight title only to lose on an eighth-round stoppage.
Following that defeat, Napa retired for three years, before returning to the ring in 2004 with a new manager and trainer in Brian Lawrence, who also hailed from Clapton.
In his first contest under Lawrence, Napa outpointed Danny Costello and in 2005, he challenged Martin Power for the British bantamweight title, losing on points.
Two bouts later Napa faced Simore Maludroth for the European bantamweight title, but again ended up on the losing side.
After these two failed title attempts, it finally all went right for the Hackney boxer in July 2007, when he faced Jason Booth again for the British title in Wigan.
This time Napa got his revenge for the defeat that ended his unbeaten record back in 1998, winning on a unanimous decision.
Napa made his first defence of the title against Bristol’s Lee Haskins later that year, forcing his opponent to retire in round seven with a bad cut over his eye.
Camden’s Martin power was the next boxer to challenge Napa for his British title, but once again the Clapton fighter successfully defended his belt.
Later that year, Napa defended his title for the third time against Colin Moffett and the Lonsdale belt was his to keep.
This made the Hackney boxer the number-one challenger to Carmelo Ballone’s European bantamweight title.
The fight took place at the York Hall and was the greatest night of Napa’s career when, by the slenderest of margins, he became the European champion, relinquishing his British title.
Five months later, Napa lost his European belt to Malik Bouziane, but the Hackney boxer was quick to regain his British title, taking it from Gary Davies,.
However, Napa lost the belt when defending it for the first time in a controversial defeat at the hands of Jamie McDonnell, despite the reporters and Sky Sports all having Napa down as the clear winner.
McDonnell then went on to win the European title, leaving the British belt vacant, however Napa was unable to regain the accolade for the third time, retiring in his fight against Stuart Hall.
Napa only had one more bout after this, when he fought at super-bantamweight against Sunderland’s Martin Ward, losing on points.
At just 5ft 1in tall, in all of his 29 fights, Napa gave both height and reach advantage to his opponents and the Hackney boxer made his decision to retire at the age of 33, and is due to have a cataract operation on his left eye next month.
Napa said: “The Boxing Board of Control are running coaching courses all over the country and they have one in London at the Peacock Gym in March which I intend to pass and then take out a training licence.”