England Boxing is the National Governing Body for Amateur/Olympic boxing in England. There are 981 affiliated clubs with 40% of clubs in the top 20% of areas in the Indices of Multiple Deprivation. This compares with 16% of football clubs and 3% of tennis clubs. Initiatives targeting getting people to be active in areas of deprivation must consider investment in boxing clubs.
The governing body ensures all competitions apply to national and international regulation. We also ensure that each club reaches a set of minimum standards with regards to the quality of the building and equipment used, the training of coaches and welfare officers, and that all competitive boxers have medicals from Doctors and are well matched to provide the safest possible conditions for competitive bouts.
Many affiliated boxing clubs enjoy good levels of financial support with grants, most through Sport England capital and revenue grants. These clubs must meet our minimum standards in order to qualify for these grants. England Boxing is concerned that some boxing clubs who do not affiliate and therefore do not have to meet minimum standards listed above also apply for government funding and many are funded.
As the role of sport for community good has been highlighted in recent years, England Boxing has forged nationwide projects with MIND to tackle mental health issues, Parkinson’s UK to provide exercise for older members and with Home Office projects to tackle youth crime, most notably knife crime and recently a number of clubs have distributed food parcels during the COVID pandemic
For sport and recreation bodies seeking government money, the governance levels set out by Sport England are about right and correct and help to ensure tax payer and or lottery investment is secure.
Investment at club level, in particular clubs operating in areas of deprivation frequently led by volunteers who are not well versed in traditional governance protocols, needs to be more flexible with an innovative approach. Typically, clubs are asked for a club constitution, named Chair, Treasurer and Secretary and two signatories on a bank account. For some boxing clubs this level of paperwork is not possible. A club that is not able to or prepared to have the minimum levels of paperwork in place is not eligible for funding. Yet some of those clubs may be welcoming over 100 members, mostly young people, four or five nights a week, who all pay a small amount of cash (£2 per night) to help cover costs. Surely those in charge of sports governance and sports funding can find a new way to support those clubs based on the knowledge of what they do and achieve in their community. Supporting testimonials from their NGB, local police, Active Partnership. and possibly local councilor should allow them to be eligible for funding.
Elite Funding to grass roots
Every professional boxer learned the sport through an amateur gym, yet the investment from pro back to amateur is minimal and happens by luck rather than design. Other sports can put pressure on the NGB’s that administer wealthy professional sport to put something back into grass roots. Some of the major spectator sports agreed a 5% levy on all TV rights to return to grass roots. Football Foundation and other such projects followed this initiative.
However, the NGB for professional boxing, British Boxing Board of Control, does not make the money in the sport, that belongs to private businesses and promoters. Government pressure on promoters to contribute 5% of TV income from pro bouts to amateur would make an amazing difference. Likewise, a £1 levy on ticket prices to watch a pro bout and or a levy on boxing betting to support grass roots boxing would help.