Edinburgh ‘Fight Club’ putting fighters in ‘grave danger’

Boxing trainer Bradley Welsh. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Boxing trainer Bradley Welsh. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

BOXING chiefs have expressed concerns over the growing trend of unlicensed charity bouts.

Edinburgh’s first Ultra White Collar Boxing next month will see amateurs go toe-to-toe to raise money for charity after eight weeks’ training.

Organisers have insisted the black-tie gala event at The Biscuit Factory on April 10 gives people with no boxing experience the chance to train in a “safe and enjoyable environment”, while raising money for Cancer Research.

But Fraser Walker, chief operating officer of Boxing Scotland – the sport’s official governing body – confirmed that he may approach the Scottish Government to raise safety concerns over unregulated boxing. He stressed that Boxing Scotland “in no way, shape or form condone unlicensed and unregulated white collar boxing” – though he stopped short of calling for an outright ban.

But Bradley Welsh, a former boxing champion who runs several boxing gyms across the city, wants a full-scale parliamentary review into safety 
surrounding events like UWCB.

He claimed eight weeks’ training was not long enough to ensure fighters were able to adequately defend themselves, adding that inexperienced fighters lacking discipline were a “dangerous animal”.

Mr Welsh said matching up people of different weights and ages was putting fighters in “grave danger”, describing it as “scandalous”.

He stressed that UWCB was not affiliated with recognised regulatory bodies such as Boxing Scotland or the Amateur Boxing Association which demand stringent safety requirements.

But organiser Jon Leonard pointed to the safety record of UWCB, which has been running events for almost a decade without serious injuries.

He added: “Boxers receive a medical before their fight and after the fight. The training gets people fit and healthy and switched on to boxing.

“We have been established for seven years and 125,000 people have taken part in our events with no serious injuries at any of them.”

Participants receive eight weeks of free training with professional boxing coaches, providing they raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Emma Hallas, senior account executive for Cancer Research UK said: “The health and safety of our supporters is of paramount importance and we know that UWCB adhere to all necessary health and safety procedures at their events.

“UWCB has been working with Cancer Research UK since 2013 and during that time have raised an incredible £3.6 million for the charity.

“Cancer Research UK receives no government funding so we rely solely on the money we receive from our supporters.”

john.connell@edinburghnews.com