The Army Sportsman of the Year 2018, serving soldier Chez Nihell, will be making his professional debut on the biggest stage of the year so far on the undercard of James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr at London’s O2 Arena on February 23, live on ITV Box Office.
The lance corporal, who currently serves with 27 Regiment, the Royal Logistics Corps, was born on the Isle of Wight and learned to box at the Newport Phoenix Boxing Club. He goes into the contest as a six-time UK Combined Services champion and England’s reigning ABA Elite super-heavyweight champion.
The 31-year-old said, “This is what dreams are made of. You only make one pro debut and to make it on a stacked card at London’s O2 in this new chapter of my boxing and army life is very special.”
Chez, who served in Afghanistan with The 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, has been part of the Army Elite Boxing set-up since 2013.
From Shorwell, he had first bout aged 12 at Portchester Community Centre near Portsmouth. He went on to become one of the most decorated amateurs of this millennium, winning the English ABA title at super-heavyweight and unified two English belts. He also won the Armed forces regional championships six years in a row and the Haringey Box Cup from 2015-2018 at two different weights.
As a super-heavyweight, he had 23 bouts and only lost three – all split decisions for national titles. He only lost one in his last 19 bouts as an amateur and won the last 12 bouts when fighting at Elite level.
In December last year, he was voted Army Sportsman of the Year 2018, due to being the first male in the last five years from the army to win the ABA’s. This was the icing on the cake for Nihell, who had also won Infantry Sportsman of the Year as well as Isle of Wight Sportsman of the Year.
Team Nihell will have his wife, LCpl Alanna Nihell – also a serving soldier – in his corner. Alanna is also a decorated amateur having won three ABA lightweight titles and a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2014. She was the first female to captain the Army Elite Boxing Team and experienced over 120 amateur fights and boxed for Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland over 50 times.
Chez, who now resides in Aldershot with his wife, initially followed his father into boxing, who once fought WBU World lightweight champion Colin Dunne as an amateur. His dad was the first influence in his boxing career as well as aspiring to his heavyweight hero Lennox Lewis.
“My dad was an amateur boxer and a jockey, and they had their own Box Championships for their region called ‘Stable Lads’. He was a busy amateur and he got me and my younger brother into the local boxing club at Newport Phoenix ABC on the Isle of Wight.
“Domestically, I won everything, so the next step up in levels was to turn pro,” he said of his decision to turn over.
“I boxed for England as an amateur, but the main goal for me was winning an ABA title – that was the holy grail that my dad always used to talk about and what I dreamed of as a kid. I had to go through two semis and two finals to finally win it.
“I’m back working with the army boxing team now as an assistant coach, my general day to day work in the army is boxing, which is great so still train and spar with the lads. I’m a soldier as well but the army allows me to fulfill work commitments and have a professional career at the same time, so I get to train three times a day.”
Trained by Johnny Edwards at the thriving Guildford City Gym, Chez describes himself as a tricky switch-hitter with nifty footwork.
“First ambition is to get my debut done, then Southern Area, then English and British. I want to replicate what I achieved as an amateur, winning all the domestic titles, then go from there.”
To follow Chez on Twitter, click here @CNihell
For tickets to the next fight, please call 07749 185 744