Nino Severino: Meet the best Suffolk athlete you’ve probably never heard of
In his latest column, Nino Severino introduces you to the best athlete from Suffolk that you may never have heard of!
As each week goes by in my role as the Director of The Hub Centre of Excellence at the University of Suffolk, I am becoming more and more excited about the incredible volume of elite athletes and coaches I meet in our great sporting town and region.
As my role at the Hub continues to increase in momentum, I’m meeting local athletes who are making a major sporting noise on the world stage, and one of these is Davin Pack, a world-class karate fighter and 5th Dan black belt.
Davin is one of those rare sporting personalities who has done it all, competed and won at world level, coached international fighters of his own, and has now become the manager of the England team with his fellow ex-England team-mate Paul Newby.
For those of you who do not know, Ipswich has an incredible track record for producing world-class karate fighters, and I can’t write this column without tipping my hat to one individual who has played a massive role in this achievement.
His name is Leni Austin, himself an ex-England international fighter. Leni has dedicated his life to karate, and has supported the development of hundreds of karatekas who have reached elite level, with some emerging to become the best in the world.
Two of the best athletes Ipswich has ever produced were coached by Leni from a very young age – the aforementioned Davin, and Milo Hodge.
I myself supported Milo as head of his sports science team, and I must say, he is still to this day one of the most naturally talented athletes I have ever worked with.
The Ipswich karate community has much to thank Leni for, but now it is time for the new breed to lead our fighters and this sport to global recognition – and the man who can do this is our very own Davin.
When you look at his achievements on the karate mats, it is actually jaw dropping!
15 English titles and seven British, four Commonwealth golds, three European bronze, six European silver, one European gold, one World bronze and a World gold – surely Davin is one of the most successful athletes Ipswich has ever produced!
Davin is now 35-years-old, with a wealth of fighting experience at his disposal, to support him in his national managerial role. It was very interesting for me to listen to Davin as he told me his sporting story.
He started learning karate at the very tender age of five-years-old, and earned the status of black belt at the incredible age of 11!
He won his first junior English title when he was 12 and went on to earn his England international status at 16.
At 17-years-old, a year under the required age of 18, he was selected to fight for the England men’s senior team in Madrid, alongside karate legends such as Wayne Otto, Willie Thomas and Ian Cole, who between them achieved many European and World titles.
Davin is one of the very few England fighters never to lose his place in the England karate team, and has the scars to prove himself as the ultimate fighting Spartan, breaking his jaw in two places during his first ever international against a French fighter.
After earning his stripes as a fighter, he then started his journey into elite coaching in 2008 when he launched his own karate club at St Albans School in Ipswich.
It’s safe to say that he started very strongly, developing English champions, and European medallists, showing early on the potential he had as a technical coach, but also as a motivator and a personality who could create an environment of inspiration.
2010 was his break through year on the international coaching scene, being selected to support the-then England manager Willie Thomas.
After this, Davin was then offered a full time England coaching position and has gone on to be part of the coaching team which has produced the first English World Champion for 12 years!
Davin recently made a visit to the Hub’s multi-million-pound Centre of Excellence on the Marina, and he could see for himself why Paul Hurst, Lee O’Neil and Jimmy Reynolds from Ipswich Town Football Club utilise our world-class facilities.
Our motivation and vision at the Hub is to ensure that other top athletes benefit from the state-of-the-art sports science equipment that is housed at the Hub.
After Davin’s visit, we hope that the England team he leads will use Ipswich as a part of their preparations for elite competition.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, Ipswich punches well above its weight on a national level – we are producing athletes such as Davin, who commit their lives to ensuring Ipswich is on the sporting map, and I will do all I can to ensure that we salute and celebrate our sporting excellence!