Writing to the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage as part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Boxing, Imran Hussain MP has urged the Government to include boxing as part of the Sport Survival Package.
Unveiled at the end of last year, the Sport Winter Survival Package included £300 million of funding to be provided to help support spectator sports impacted by Coronavirus restrictions through the pandemic. However, whilst sports such as football, rugby, tennis and motorsport were included on the list of those eligible for support by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, boxing and boxing gyms were omitted, leaving many grassroots gyms facing a perilous future.
Throughout the pandemic, grassroots boxing clubs, gyms and organisations across the country, not just in Bradford, have been working tirelessly to support their local communities, but these clubs and gyms now financial ruin as a result of being unable to open until Coronavirus restrictions are eased. Whilst the restrictions have affected clubs and gyms for many sports, boxing gyms have been particularly hard hit, with 40% of the country’s clubs in the top 20% of deprived areas that have limited access to alternative funding sources, leaving a huge void in these communities.
The letter from Imran and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Boxing, therefore, calls on the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage to reconsider the Government’s approach and to provide funding and support for boxing in 2021, so that the sport is well placed to continue producing not only Olympic athletes but promoting physical and mental wellbeing as well as social inclusion.
Speaking on the call to save grassroots boxing gyms, Imran said:
“Bradford’s grassroots boxing gyms are an important part of our local communities, not just as sporting venues but as vital community and social hubs, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds with few other opportunities. Yet like many businesses and other groups during this pandemic, they have sadly been neglected and forgotten by this Government.
“Unlike many other elite sports, boxing, particularly amongst gyms at the grassroots level, does not have huge finances to fall back on, leaving them particularly vulnerable during this crisis whilst restrictions are in place, and I am therefore extremely concerned that if the Government do not provide adequate support over this period, we will lose these gyms and the positive role they play in our communities for good.
“Ministers, therefore, need to recognise the immense importance of our grassroots boxing gyms in not just developing a new generation of sporting champions, but in keeping many young people out of trouble and off the streets, and ensure that these gyms receive the support that they need to survive this crisis.”