As the domestic season draws to a close, I can think of no better quote to summarise amateur boxing as “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.
Right now, it really is a tale of two cities. Domestic boxing in England is healthier than it has been for many years, while the international federation has lost the right to run the boxing element of the Olympic games in Tokyo 2020.
I would like first to comment on the excellent championships we have held. The best National Amateur Finals for many years. Outstanding Youth and School Amateur Championships too, keenly competed in and very well run. Scores of tournaments, club shows and Box Cups, it has been an amazing season.
I am delighted to see the structure of England Boxing improving all the time. This is both at a strategic level and at a more tactical level. We have a strong CEO and a clear and defined strategy which we work towards achieving every day.
Grass roots amateur boxing is growing from strength to strength. There are 926 Clubs registered with us, up from 852 last year. We hope and aim to break the 1,000 barrier in the future. These clubs are the very foundation of our sport, brilliantly run by qualified focused and passionate volunteers who give so much of their lives to the sport they love. We are grateful and proud of you.
Our registered membership continues to grow with the number of clubs, we stand at over 20,000 members up from 17,500 last year. Female numbers particularly are increasing with 250 women likely to enter the Women’s Box Cup this year, up from 189 last year.
We are about to redesign our website so it will be much easier for those who wish to find their nearest registered club. We continue to develop The Vault and are about to put all medical records on there to ensure better meta data is kept on our boxers to ensure we can aggregate information to ensure we are protecting them as best as we can. Clubs each have one vote and shortly the Vault will have the ability to vote on many issues that the Board would rather put to the Members.
A total of £7 million has been raised in community grants since April 18 to date, money going directly to clubs and our Club Support Officers have been directly responsible for securing over half of that amount. Do contact your CSO if you would like to discuss how to apply for grants, and they will be happy to advise you.
Finally, a strong grass root grows into something very special and we have fielded so many England teams at every level, competing against the very best in the world and we have won 38 international medals, up from 25 the previous year. I am proud to say our elite boxers are amongst the best amateurs in the world.
I don’t want to rest on any laurels, there is plenty left to do. We need more officials, and we need to develop our school strategy and university strategy more directly, but we are doing well and most importantly we are doing our very best to drive politics out of our sport, something that ultimately is only damaging to amateur boxing.
Internationally the picture is less clear. Our view that the previous President of AIBA should consider his position and our communication to that end has been justified. The IOC feels that AIBA is not currently passing its threshold on good governance and as such, although boxing will be in the Tokyo Olympics, it will not be organised by AIBA.
We do believe that root and branch reform of AIBA is likely to be necessary to return it to a position whereby the IOC feels that the governance is fit to be allowed to organise the Olympic competitions of the future.
We will do everything that is right and correct to protect amateur boxing both in England and Internationally. The sport, the boxers and coaches and officials must always come first and governance must be transparent and ethical.
I know there is plenty more boxing to come, including the outstanding Haringey Box Cup in June, followed by the well organised Hull and East Midlands Box Cups. I hope to see many of you at Haringey and will be available to discuss any questions or observations you have there.