Imran Hussain MP hosts the launch of two key reports into grassroots boxing in Parliament.
Imran Hussain MP hosts the launch of two key reports into grassroots boxing in Parliament.

Hosting key figures from the world of grassroots boxing, Imran Hussain MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Boxing last month launched the publication of reports on the societal and community benefits of boxing clubs in Parliament to highlight the need for greater funding and support for grassroots sports.

The two reports conducted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Youth Studies, and by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre in cooperation with England Boxing are among the first of their kind in studying the less-well understand benefits of grassroots boxing clubs in particular to society and the communities where they are based.

Conducted over several years, they found that grassroots boxing clubs, many of which are located in deprived communities, are not only providing low-cost ways of increasing participation in sport and physical activity, but also instilling a sense of respect and of being valued amongst participants, and bringing an inclusive culture and ethos supported by inspiring coaches and club leadership teams.

Despite the positive benefits highlighted in person by the reports’ authors at Imran’s launch in Parliament, the publication of the reports comes at a critical time for grassroots boxing, with the Government failing to set aside any funding for the grassroots level of the sport in their recent Sports Strategy, not only preventing many clubs from upscaling the positive impact that they have in their local communities, but putting the viability of a large number at risk.

Following the publication of the reports and ahead of this year’s Paris Olympics where Team GB are expected to build on their record as the third most successful nation in boxing, with a total of 18 gold medals and 56 medals overall won over previous Olympic Games, Imran is therefore urging the Minister for Sport to rethink his Sports Strategy and commit additional resources to grassroots boxing clubs in cooperation with other Government Departments which gain from the societal benefits of grassroots boxing, such as the Department of Health and Social Care.

Speaking on the benefits of grassroots boxing clubs to communities and his call for greater funding for grassroots sports, Imran said:

“The incredible benefits of grassroots boxing clubs to their local communities have for years been badly undervalued and neglected, but with 3 out of every 4 England Boxing affiliates located in the most deprived areas of the country, there is a massive opportunity to scale up the impact that these gyms have on their local communities, particularly in places like Bradford where we’re already seeing the fantastic impact that some of our clubs are having.

“Like many grassroots sports, grassroots boxing clubs provide an alternative, inclusive and welcoming space, and they can level the playing field, encourage physical and mental fitness, and deliver core skills such as discipline and work ethic. But as these two reports highlight, and as grassroots coaches will always attest, ‘boxing is different’ and can reach groups in a way that few other sports, and even fewer which are as accessible as boxing, can, and that’s why we need to see an intense cross-government approach to funding grassroots boxing.

“These reports put beyond doubt the immense benefits of grassroots boxing, so the time for the Government to end their neglect of all grassroots sport, but of boxing in particular, is now, and ahead of Team GB heading off to Paris later this year, Ministers must recognise the role that grassroots clubs had on the development of those we’ll be cheering on at the Olympics, and provide equitable and fair funding to invest in the next generation and future of boxing.”

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