CHAMPION boxer Anthony Nelson put a year of heartbreak behind him when he stormed to the Commonwealth super-flyweight title.
Nelson, 29, savoured his new role a major title holder at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on Saturday night, saying: “That’s for South Shields”.
His victory, over Scotland’s Jamie Wilson, also led him to admit he was choking back the tears when he thought back to the dark days of 2014 and two personal tragedies.
Two of the people closest to the unbeaten boxer died – best friend Ross Young and his cousin, Dale Lincoln, who was also a promising amateur fighter.
“It was a difficult time for me,” said an emotional Nelson.
“I lost my best friend and it took me months to get my head back together and then I lost Dale. I’m welling up now just thinking about them.
I know they’ll be up there looking down on me and hope they are proud of me.Anthony Nelson
“I know they’ll be up there looking down on me and hope they are proud of me.”
Ross Young died in April last year at the age of just 27 after being found him unconscious at his home in Fallow Road, South Shields.
South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney determined the tragedy was the result of natural causes.
Dale Lincoln, 21, from Horsley Hill, South Shields, was found at the bottom of cliffs at Marsden after reports that a Citroen car was seen in the water.
Nicknamed ‘The Kid’, Dale was a popular member of Horsley Hill Amateur Boxing Club, and a three time winner of the Tyne Tees and Wear 57 kilo crown.
On Saturday, Nelson’s bout was top of the bill and his opponent was retired by his cornermen at the end of the sixth round.
“I am a proud Shields lad and that was for Shields,” he said.
“When I won the English title last October at Temple Park, the town got behind me and they did again here. A lot of people came along to support me and I can’t thank them enough.
“I had loads of other people wishing me well and I thank them too, it means so much.
“I plan to work even harder now to try to move on to the next level and win more big fights.”
The unassuming super-flyweight, who mixes his boxing with a full-time job as a bricklayer, has shown a fighting heart.
“It just proves you can get through things,” he said.
“No matter how hard things get, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to stay strong.”