DALE YOUTH featherweight JP O’Meara is upgrading his training from a homemade gym at the bottom of his garden to the state of the art English Institute of Sport. He has been selected to join the GB squad and has his first training camp in Sheffield this week.

It is a new challenge and a real relief after a difficult year for the Londoner. After finishing the runner up in the England Boxing Elite championships in 2019, when he was just 19, O’Meara was due to have an assessment with the Great Britain team in May of last year. The lockdown prevented that from happening. It put his dreams on hold but eventually, in December, he was able to go through the trials.

“Being in lockdown, literally training in my back garden, to being up Sheffield, it was a bit crazy really,” he told Boxing News. “Luckily I built a gym in my back garden, I’ve got a boxing ring, a bag. I was training in there and my brother was taking me on the pads. I sort of had it, not the best, but I would definitely say not the worst. I could get my training in. My brother helped a lot during this lockdown. The gyms were shut so luckily I could go in my back garden and my brother would train me.”

He was fortunate that he had a padman and experienced boxer in his household. O’Meara comes from a boxing family, his brother Jake represented Dale Youth, former pro Steve O’Meara is a cousin and his father also boxed, even though it was his mum who got him started in the first place.

Despite the year-long shutdown of amateur boxing JP resisted any temptation to turn professional. “The pro game, it wasn’t really interesting me. I’m 21, I’m still young. I’ve got a lot to learn. I think being on GB is the best thing for me. You travel the world, you learn so much from being there. You’ve got the Olympics, you’ve even got the Commonwealth Games next year, that could be in line for me,” he said. “I know with pro boxing, basically you’ve got to pay for everything… I know it’s a hard game to even earn money from.”

“Our actual [GB] assessment then was in December, just before Christmas, so at least I had something to work towards,” O’Meara continued. “Everyone’s in the same boat. I just knew I had to give it my all. Luckily I had my brother to give me pads. I was sharp. I wasn’t going there with any excuses..

“It’s tough. You feel like all eyes are on you.”

After training through Christmas and coming through further assessments in January, it all paid off. “It’s tough when you go there, it’s just on another level. You don’t want to make one mistake, so it’s a lot of pressure. I really enjoyed it and I got so much experience from it. Then my first assessment I see Anthony Joshua. Just being around Anthony Joshua is unbelievable,” O’Meara said.

JP has boxed for England once before, against Germany at the end of 2019. “That was the main dream just to box for England,” JP said. “To get the win as well, I was buzzing.

“Being on [GB], it’s unreal. When I got the call, I’m still on a high now really. When I box for them it’s going to be different level.”