Having worked voluntarily for in amateur boxing for over 30 years, the frustrating truth is that opportunities for girls and women still flag behind male counterparts in the sport. My focus is and always has been to ensure parity and create opportunities for girls and women where possible.
Sitting and waiting is not my style, we need to be proactive to encourage development at the grass roots end of the sport. Funding is located at the top end of the sport, where boxers are now getting great international experience but where do our future champions come from if we do not support club level boxers?
I have instigated female only competitions up and down the country and encouraged teams to work together to create competitive opportunities. Squads take place on a bimonthly basis now so that girls get regular, varied sparring, and build a support network of their own within the sport.
Having been the driving force behind the Diamonds in the ring showcase event, which piloted women’s participation in the National Elite Championships, I am please to say that, after years of persistent pushing, women are now represented in every championship at every level.
What can funding do?
Funding can help us give the boxers more opportunities to compete, both here in the UK and in International competition. Boxers come from all kinds of backgrounds and it would be absolutely against the ethos of all we do in the clubs to become a sport where on those with access to funds could reap the benefits of competitive opportunities. Team matches need to be happen. Two or three day round robin events are a great way to increase experience levels. Box Cup events too are fantastic for competitive experience and learning to adapt to styles. All of these ideas need sponsorship and financial backing, which should not be left down to individual boxers.
We have done tremendously well in the last ten years and that needs to be celebrated but continued development means bridging the gap between grass roots boxers and those selected for GB teams.