Sutton St Edmund mixed martial arts prospect on podium at Youth World Championships
Outside the mixed martial arts cage, Alex Andrews is a quiet lad – but inside it he’s just landed a world silver medal for England.
Representing his country for the first time, the 15-year-old from Sutton St Edmund had a superb IMMAF 2019 Youth World Championships, just falling short in the final against Ukrainian Danylo Dobrovolskyi.
Some spectators at that bout in Rome, Italy, had Andrews winning it before Dobrovolskyi executed a brilliant submission move.
Andrews said: “I’m proud of myself to have got that far.
“I was a bit nervous before the fight because it’s a world final. Obviously it would have been good to have got the gold but the other lad deserved it.”
The Deepings School student had been picked for the England Cadet squad after impressing in trials at Manchester. He’s been into the sport for about five years since dad Darren suggested it might be good for his fitness.
A member of Avaddon MMA gym in Wisbech, his dedication - training three to four hours every day - is now paying off.
At the world championships he was in the Men’s Youth B 67kg (148lbs category). Weighing in at the acceptable 67.3kg, he saw off Ireland’s Fionn O’Rourke and Lebanon’s Kevin Nahed in his first two bouts. Up next was Russian Danila Kucherian and Andrews missed out on a points decision.
But he had done enough to progress to the semi-finals in which he came up against England team-mate Brooklyn Thomas, which didn’t sit well with him at first. The two had become friends during the tournament and each had supported the other in their bouts.
“I didn’t really like the fact that I had to fight him,” said Andrews. “But you have to put your friendship aside for the fight because at the end of the day it’s about getting the result.”
He did - a win on points sent him into the final in a confident frame of mind, but Dobrovolskyi pulled off a sensational arm bar move to force Andrews to tap.
Although obviously disappointed, the South Holland fighter was rightly proud of his efforts.
Mum Naomi was delighted that he had overcome an early sense of not belonging at the championships to prove it was right he was among the best.
“It’s nerve-wracking watching him, I won’t lie - but mainly for him.” she said. “It’s great to see him doing the best for himself and Darren and I are proud of him because of all the hard work he’s putting in.
“For him it’s a way of life now.”
There was a painful reminder that sport hurts though - the teenager had to have his “cauliflower” ears drained before taking a few well-earned days off.