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Stansted-based Hoddesdon Boxing Academy fighter John Hedges joins Olympians Joe Joyce and Guido Vianello at S-Jam Promotions after signing professional deal

Stansted fighter John Hedges celebrated his 18th birthday in style by signing a professional contract.

The puncher nicknamed the gentleman, who went to Forest Hall School, has penned a deal with S-Jam Promotions.

Hedges, who has won numerous national and international youth titles under the guidance of Sab Leo at Hoddesdon Boxing Academy, joins a promoter with the likes of Olympians Joe Joyce and Guido Vianello on the books.

The 6ft 5in teenager's former Hoddesdon clubmate Jordan Reynolds has also broken away from the amateur code by signing with MTK Global.

Hedges, who is a rangy southpaw, began his career in the ring under Scott Gleed at Bishop's Stortford Amateur Boxing Club before a spell at Repton Boxing Club and then moving to Hoddesdon.

His latest triumph came at the England Boxing Championships in Birtley earlier in the spring where he saw off the competition over three days to cement his position as No 1 in the British Isles.

"I once saw John at a function in Harlow and looked him straight in the eye and told him 'join me and I'll make you a champion'," said Hoddesdon head coach Leo.

"More recently I started bringing him with me and the other professionals I look after to other gyms and letting him get a feel of the pro side of the game.

"He didn't disappoint, in fact he belonged and was enjoying his appearances sparring with heavy-handed prospects which didn't faze him one bit.

"What I liked about John was that whilst he was in negotiations he remained focused on the [England Boxing] championships and made sure nothing would distract him from that coveted title.

John Hedges has signed a professional boxing contract (33751429)
John Hedges has signed a professional boxing contract (33751429)

"Next month should have seen John representing England at the European Youth Championships, however that looks like it's been scratched off the calendar.

"The world championships take place later this year, but chances are, when everything is back to normal, he may be on a big-fight undercard."

Hoddesdon Boxing Academy has a brilliant pedigree when it comes to developing professional fighters.

The likes of former Ware Boys ABC competitor Nicky Bardle and Billy Joe Saunders, who went pro after the Beijing Olympics in 2008, got things started and there are plenty more coming through.

"All we ask is that any individual that joins us, joins us for the journey and not the ride," said Leo.

"Our club has an exceptional group of coaches who are dedicated and passionate and crave success for all our members.

"We put in the time, effort and commitment. Sacrifices pay off, just ask Jordan Reynolds and John Hedges.

"The frightening thing is there's another dozen or so behind them ready to follow them into the professional game, including current GB team member Nico Leivers, double elite national champion Hamza Mehmood, six-time national champion Georgie Ellis, national and European champion Jack Oliphant, and England boxers Charlie Hickford and Sam King.

"There are so many to name - our club is buzzing, not just at this moment but constantly."

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