The situation for competitive amateur boxing in the UK remains challenging and complex. John Dennen rounds up the amateur scene
THERE are European Youth and European Junior championships scheduled for next month, the former from November 11 to November 23 in Montenegro, the latter from November 23 to December 2 in Bulgaria.
England however will not be able to send a team to either. Both those host countries are currently on the UK’s quarantine list, which is problematic. It means that including the travel, attendance and subsequent isolation the youngsters involved would be out of school or education for at least four weeks, and that doesn’t factor in the required training – a minefield in itself when you consider there hasn’t been a competitive bout in Britain since March and that types of exercise have been severely curtailed due to the coronavirus restrictions. Most significantly though England Boxing notes: “With just over four weeks to go, other than location and date, no information has been provided in regard to logistics, competition and medical plans and, specifically, in regard to Covid security plans for preventative measures including venues, hotels and transport, testing and potential treatment. This, therefore, is a significant concern in relation to the safety of boxers, coaches, support staff etc.
“The decision, while clearly hugely disappointing for those boxers in the running for selection, was not taken lightly and based on a number of reasons and risk factors.”
England Boxing’s Schools Box Cup which had been planned for late November to replace this year’s championships, which couldn’t happen because of Covid 19, and their Women’s Winter Box Cup, which would have happened in early December, are now both cancelled. The national federation do not expect the government to have eased restrictions to a degree where they’d be able to organise events of this scale, considering issues like restrictions on travel, congregating, permitted numbers, hotels and other operational problems, not least the safety of the officials, staff, coaches and the boxers themselves.
In Scotland the Novice championships, that were due to take place this month have been rescheduled for January 30-31 and February 6-7 2021. It also means Boxing Scotland will be unable to hold the national Intermediate championships this season. “As the governing body, we have a responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of all of our members and volunteers and believe rescheduling these championships now is appropriate,” Boxing Scotland said. “Whilst we appreciate that this is not an ideal situation please be assured that we are as ever, working as hard as we can to ensure that as a sport we are not disadvantaged in our return to competition and have been encouraged by the support received from clubs with regards to maintaining hygiene standards and following published guidelines.”
Boxing News’ in depth examination of the problems confronting amateur boxing in Britain, and some of the ways for the sport to begin a return, remains available on our website.
The government have permitted professional boxers and those on the GB Olympic programme to train and spar. GB already has been able to send their squads to Turkey for international training camps and will send a team of eight boxers to their first competition since the coronavirus lockdown started in March, the Alexis Vastine Tournament in Nantes. The event, commemorating the French Olympic medallist who died in a tragic accident in 2015, starts on October 17. GB’s Elite Performance Manager Rebecca Edgington explained, “We’ve put our team into training bubbles and whilst we are over there, we’ll provide PPE for all our boxers and coaches as well as ensuring face coverings are worn at all times, with the exception of when they are competing.
“Everyone involved at the event has to have a negative Covid 19 test 72 hours prior to our arrival in France, this way we can be sure everyone is safe within our bubble.
“The training, accommodation and tournament itself are all taking place within the same vicinity too so that’s really helpful in terms of ensuring we keep everyone as safe as possible.”
THE SPIRIT OF BOXING
Craig Turner describes the impact Jim Hill has had on the sport
OUR sport is synonymous for being full of unique characters. Those people whose drive, tough exterior but kindness can be found in equal measure. One such is quite simply the West of England’s ‘Mr. Boxing’ Jim Hill.
Jim has been involved in boxing since childhood, boxing for the Bristol and District ABC that went onto become the Empire. Through the armed services, Jim continued to box all over the world and became hugely experienced. On returning, Jim could be found regularly sparring with Tex Woodward’s stable of professional fighters, and the lure of coaching caught him there. Initially Jim coached the Bedminster Down boxing club before moving onto the next forty years at Broad Plain. Jim at this stage was also a ‘mobile’ coach for the region, starting satellite clubs in Mangotsfield and Kingswood.
Jim’s broad Bristolian accent, brutal honesty and voice that makes Brunel’s suspension bridge swing, has made many a man quake! I, like hundreds of young people, am fortunate to have Jim’s counsel and unlimited knowledge. Two other notable names among Jim’s ‘Babbies’ as he fondly refers to his young people, are Marvin Rees (the current mayor of Bristol) and former ABA champion Sam Pomphrey.
Jim worked full time, raised a family, and still found time to support the kids and clubs throughout.
Cancer is no respecter of anyone, especially those who are so undeserving of its ravages. Jim fell victim to lung cancer some years ago. Further spread and complications have ensued, and where can Jim be found? At Broad Plain coaching and supporting the marvellous exercise group they run for Parkinson syndrome. This is typical Jim, total toughness that drives tireless work on the part of others.
If you were to talk to anyone on the streets of Bristol and mention boxing, one name would come up, Jim Hill. As he recovers, the boxing community in Bristol and the hundreds of young people he has stood for and assisted wish him to know that he is a hero to us all, and like all heroes is loved and adored.