Boxing bosses lash out at officer’s fight with champ

AMATEUR boxing bosses today condemned an “unlicensed” fight between a novice police officer and former world heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon as “ludicrous and dangerous”.

Richard Thomas, chairman of the Amateur Boxing Scotland (ABS) governing body, said the contest had been organised without its official sanction and warned the match-up could lead to injury, or even a fatality.

Mr Thomas said he was writing to Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill to seek an urgent meeting on the “legality” of so-called “white-collar boxing”.

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The ABS fears for the officer’s safety if stringent medical and safety checks are not in place.

Detective Constable Steve Livingstone, 41, who has never previously boxed, is due to take on 54-year-old Witherspoon as part of a charity fundraiser at the Corn Exchange on April 29.

Police chiefs said that the contest had been licensed by the World Class Boxing Council, which would provide “all the necessary health and safety advice”.

Mr Thomas said: “There’s absolutely no doubt that there are dangers involved in two people getting into the ring, one who is twice world heavyweight champion and the other who has never boxed before, without proper medical provisions on hand.

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“We’re highlighting the potential for serious injury or a fatality at this event.”

Licensed amateur boxing events are sanctioned by the ABS, which provides referees, physicians and officials. Charity events, like club contests, can be held under ABS auspices, but the body will not sanction fights for anyone aged over 35.

Mr Thomas added: “This event defies common sense. It’s ludicrous and dangerous. Witherspoon could easily render this officer unconscious. He could put him a coma.

“Would the police allow someone to stick up a tent in a car park and have people beat the hell out of each other?”

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Robert Smith, secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, said: “I’m surprised the police would become involved in an unlicensed event.

“A 41-year-old man with no boxing experience fighting a former world champion? The safety issues don’t bear thinking about.”

Brian Donald, the Evening News boxing correspondent, said: “This event is insane. With older boxers, the one thing they don’t lose is their punching power. One punch thrown with serious intent and this officer could be in a lot of trouble.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We will be happy to hear Amateur Boxing Scotland’s concerns and engage with them on this issue. However, organisers of sporting events are responsible for determining whether any permissions are required from the local licensing authority.”

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Andy Foreman, president of the World Class Boxing Council, said: “We provide paramedics at ringside and all the insurance and officials. Our referees are usually ex-pro referees.

“I believe the Witherspoon fight will be done as an exhibition bout, which is more of a sparring session.

“Amateur Boxing does a good job but I think they’re just trying to make waves.”

A police spokesman said: “To ensure the safety of all participants, the fights have been licensed by the World Class Boxing Council, who will provide the necessary health and safety advice, medical assistance, fight supervision and all relevant safety equipment.”