It was a Sunday Mass with a difference for parishioners at Christ the King in Coventry as they welcomed back Aaron Bowen.

The 23-year-old, whose parents and Grandad are part of the congregation, recently paid a visit to say thank to all those who supported him during the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Aaron is a professional boxer and won a bronze medal in the light heavyweight category at the recent competition. He boxed in three fights against competitors from Nigeria, India and Wales.

He also spent time in his younger years training at the nearby Christ the King Amateur Boxing Club, and so holds the parish very close to his heart.

“Fr Tom has celebrated Mass at Christ the King since my first year of school – he and the parish have been very supportive of me,” said Aaron. “This was an opportunity for me to say thank you.

“It was good to go back and see people. Everyone was congratulating me and shaking my hand. During Mass I was asked up to the altar and showed my medal. I was more than happy to have photos after Mass with people – they have watched me, encouraged me and supported me, I couldn’t be more proud.”

Aaron attended Christ the King Catholic Primary School, followed by Cardinal Newman Catholic School.

His parents are Stephanie and John Bowen, and his Grandad is Eamonn Flood - all regular churchgoers at Christ the King.

“My Grandad boxed, and Dad boxed, so it’s in the blood,” said Aaron. “I was watching the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and happened to watch boxing. I hadn’t started then but saw a couple of boxers win gold. I started boxing straightaway.

“Eight years later I won a medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, so it’s been very special.

“It was the biggest competition I’ve been a part of in front of a home crowd.

“The home support was mega, I’ve never heard anything like it. The whole of Coventry, and it sounded like England, were all behind me. It was so good.”

Aaron is also very proud of the ongoing work at Christ the King Amateur Boxing Club, which started in 2012. “It’s doing well. A lot of children go through the doors, it takes kids off the streets,” he added. “I hope watching me can inspire them.”

And as Aaron starts to prepare for his next big competition, the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, he’s sure to have the support of the Christ the King community behind him.