Hearn joins calls for government to financially support grass roots boxing
November 23, 2020 | by Matt Halfpenny
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has joined the calls for the government to provide direct funding support for grass roots boxing clubs during the Coronavirus Pandemic – and hopes to get two of the amateur game’s most famous graduates, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, to do the same.
There was no place for grass roots sport in the Government’s £300 million Winter Survival Package for sport, which backed only those losing income through ticket sales.
It’s why England Boxing and other national governing bodies of sport have been calling in a petition, which has almost 45,000 signatures (sign it here), for a Sports Recovery Fund for community sport.
Sport England has provided funding support through grants offered through both lockdowns, as have local authorities through rate relief.
But not all clubs have been able to access the funding, leaving a number of them under threat, particularly as money received from initial grants is, in some cases, now beginning to run out.
It is cause for concern for Hearn, who has also written an open letter to the government on the matter and told inews.co.uk at the launch of the National Lottery and ITV’s Miss Out to Help Out project that: “The government’s lack of understanding of reality is so frustrating and boxing always seems to suffer.
“They don’t know anything about boxing clubs or these kids – they are full of tearaways, full of them.
“Every kid that’s in there, if they weren’t in there would be on the street, would be getting arrested, would be involved in violence, involved in drugs or going the wrong way.
“I’m worried about us losing these clubs. They’re the beating heart of the sport. People say ‘you should help’ – and we are, but there’s only so much we can give. I’m sure the government don’t want these clubs to go under, but it’s frustrating.
“It seems like a lot of local councillors understand the role they play, but at government level it seems to get kicked back.
“Will the people support a campaign to make sure local boxing clubs in the community can survive?
“They will if I can get myself, AJ (Anthony Joshua), Tyson Fury, all these different people, to support and put pressure on.”
40 per cent of England Boxing-affiliated clubs are in the 20 per cent most deprived areas of the country and Hear knows the vital roles they play as community clubs.
He added: “I came from a very privileged background and going to a boxing club was the best thing I ever did,” said Hearn.
“I’ve got two daughters and I’d have no problem sending them to an amateur boxing club – if I had a son, I would make him go. You talk about government trying to address obesity in kids and mental health, this is another solution for that.”
“Do I go for the (Marcus) Rashford approach, and put the pressure on? I think the answer is yes. Marcus has done an unbelievable job – first and foremost, you have to get the support of the people and he got that.
“It’s not about the future generation of stars and champions, it’s for the people who can say that ‘boxing gave me discipline, structure and respect in my life’.”
Sign the petition to #SaveOurSports. We at England Boxing, along with UK Active, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, other national governing bodies of sport, and a host of others in the sports sector are calling for the government to instigate emergency funding in the form of a Sports Recovery Fund to ensure sport clubs, fitness and leisure facilities – the lifeblood of communities across the nation – can remain open and survive the coming difficult months of the Coronavirus Pandemic.