AN amateur boxer whose international dreams were shattered by injury less than a year ago hopes to get them back on track this weekend - as a tribute to his best friend.

Reece Ellis’s hopes of boxing for Great Britain suffered a major setback when he dislocated his shoulder whilst sparring in front of international coaches last summer.

The injury required an operation and the long road to recovery was made harder for the 24-year-old from Spennymoor, County Durham, when his best friend died.

Chrissy Wright, 24, also from Spennymoor, had cystic fibrosis and died in hospital on Friday, March 6.

Mr Ellis said: “He was my biggest fan really, he was at all my fights whenever he was well enough and he’s a big miss.

“I didn’t really feel like boxing without him around but I know he’d have wanted me to keep going.”

Mr Ellis’s return to competitive boxing threw him straight in at the deep end last month when he entered the Senior ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) Elite Championships and his first round opponent was Peter Martins, from Wellington, a finalist two years ago.

He managed to win the fight unanimously at the start of a winning streak of four fights in 15 days to earn a place in the national quarter finals on Friday, April 24.

This weekend he travels to Liverpool’s Echo Arena where he hopes to make it through three successive days of fights which end with the championship final - amateur boxing’s showcase event - on Sunday, April 26.

He said: “My last fight was in May 2014 which I won and was then invited to squad training with GB.

“While I was sparring with GB coaches I dislocated my shoulder and was absolutely gutted.

“Now I’m going to the ABAs, again hoping to get in the GB squad, and it is a long shot but there is still a place up for grabs in the Olympics.”

Mr Ellis is a member of Spennymoor Boxing Academy and said he is getting the best possible coaching from his dad, Robert, who founded the club in 1991, Stuey McCrone and Mickey Thompson.