'I feel it's destiny I get a medal' - Cleland boxing ace Stephen Newns looks ahead to this summer's Commonwealth Games
Cleland boxer Stephen Newns Jnr wants to go at least one stage further than in Australia four years ago by landing a Commonwealth Games medal for Scotland in Birmingham next month.
Newns Jnr – coached at Cleland Boxing Club by his dad and former boxer Stephen Newns Snr – will fight in the 71kg light middleweight class at this year’s Games as he looks to surpass his 2018 exploits when he was defeated in the quarter-finals at the Gold Coast event.
The 24-year-old told the Times and Speaker: "A gold medal would be fantastic. I know deep down that I’ve got what it takes to get there. However if I walk away from the Commonwealth Games with a medal I’ll be delighted.
“My aim’s to be on the podium. I was so close the last time that I feel it’s destiny that I go back and do it.
"I did really well in the preliminary rounds. I didn’t think many people expected me to do as well because I was actually one of the younger guys going to the Games the last time.
"It was my first year into the senior ranks. I had won the Scottish Elite Championships in 2017 to qualify for the Commonwealth Games to fight at 69kg the next year.
"I’m confident going back to the Games this time as I have had more experience since then.
"I’ve travelled the world with the Scotland team, coming up against loads of high calibre opponents.
"I had a good performance when boxing Pat McCormack last year and he went on and won an Olympic silver medal four months after that.
"I have taken away a good few wins as well against good opponents from Brazil, Russia, guys who have beaten me in the past that I have gone back and beaten.
"So I’m noticing an improvement in myself and it’s built up my confidence a bit.
"I think in Birmingham the chances are I might be boxing someone a bit younger than me so I will have more experience than them so I’m hoping to use that to my advantage.”
Newns Jnr will have to wait until the day of the Games opening ceremony – Thursday, July 28 – to find out who his first opponent in Birmingham will be, as that is when the draw will be made.
The boxing will then run from July 29 to August 7, the day before the closing ceremony.
Each fight at the Games will be three rounds of three minutes at the National Exhibition Centre, with up to 32 boxers contesting Newns’ category.
If less than this total of fighters are in the draw, Newns may receive a bye to the last 16. He will be cheered on by friends and family including Stephen Snr, plus his mum Pauline, girlfriend Marie and sister Rebekka.
"My dad is originally from Salford,” Newns Jnr added. “He moved up to Scotland when he was in his 20s to work.
"I’ve still got a lot of family down in Salford which is not that far from Birmingham so I’m hoping to have a good support from Salford come down and make a bit of noise.”
Newns Jnr is currently training at Boxing Scotland High Performance Centre in Glasgow, having recently completed a week-long training camp in Spain in which he sparred for 24 rounds against various opponents.
"I found the sparring very useful,” he said. “It was definitely worth my while going out there.
"The quality of the opponents I was sparring against was great because they were guys who are at tournaments the same as us.
"Sometimes I was in with opponents a bit heavier than me so I was on my toes a bit more.”
Having won over 70 of his 100+ amateur fights over the years, Newns Jnr is currently weighing up whether or not to turn professional.
"I do have ambitions to turn pro,” Newns said. “A good few people expected me to go pro after the Gold Coast.
"But coming so close to the medals last time at the Games, I felt going back to the Games this time meant more to me than anything.
"Turning pro is something I’m going to sit down and have a think about after the Commonwealth Games.
"I don’t want it to cross my mind just now, I don’t want to look too far ahead.
"The Commonwealth Games is too important to me. I know that right now is my chance to go and do it but one day I will box as a professional.”
Away from boxing, Newns Jnr works as a part-time gym instructor at North Lanarkshire Leisure.
He will be graduating from university having just completed an honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science at University of the West of Scotland.