Boxing: Amateur Boxing Scotland keen to build on big success

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In light of a hugely successful night for amateur boxing when the finest Edinburgh pugilists took on their London counterparts in Princes St Gardens, Amateur Boxing Scotland (ABS) has now been awarded £350,000 from the Cashback for Communities scheme.

The revenue received from the proceeds of crime will be utilised in hope of attracting more youngsters to boxing gyms across the country. Reflecting on “When Capitals Clash” and the recent cash injection, ABS Chairman Richard Thomas is now hoping for a more prosperous future.

Thomas said: “I think it is a catalyst for us to move on now. What we are trying to do is to bring back the golden age of amateur boxing. It is ambitious but the sport used to be a cornerstone for a lot of communities in Scotland.

“About a year ago we started the ‘Bring Back Boxing’ campaign to try and promote the sport a bit more. We’ve had a few home internationals in the past year and have a few other things up our sleeve to try and create a bit more interest.”

Thomas has since talked with a number of the Capitals squad who took to the ring just over ten days ago.

He admits the response has been overwhelming with many citing the experience as one that has given them an appetite for more action of a similar calibre.

The venue of Princes Street Gardens not only provided a glamorous setting for the largest attended amateur boxing event in the city since the 1986 Commonwealth Games, it was also an opportunity to re-launch the sport to a fresh audience.

“It was a fantastic night where the atmosphere was tremendous.” Thomas said. “I’ve spoken to quite a few of the Edinburgh boxers since the event and they have all said they found the experience inspirational. They are most certainly keen to box at that level again as they’re used to sports halls in front of small audiences so it was great for them to perform on a bigger platform.”

It may have been no great surprise to hear such positivity from the competitors who took part. It is, however, an additional pleasure to receive great plaudits from the 2000 strong crowd who descended upon the gardens. But Thomas is also keen to address his assumption that many of those who witnessed such a competitive event departed with an entirely different outlook of a sport which has attained some unwarranted negativity.

“People who were there watching have been asking if this is going to be a regular occurrence so the response has been fantastic. I think what we found out is that there is a real desire for this type of grassroots boxing. The two teams were fairly evenly matched so that provided a real entertainment factor. We had great support from the police and the city council and they were delighted with how things went. I also believe they came away from the event with a different perception too where we saw what the sport is all about and that it is completely different to professional boxing.”

Thomas and his ABS colleagues do have concerns, however, with limited financial support given to the organisation from the national governing body Sportscotland. Thomas stresses ABS are being mistreated in comparison with alternative sports and is quick to highlight the success of a healthy medal tally achieved at recent major international events which merely underlines the sport’s true potential.

“We (amateur boxing) managed to achieve three medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year and have also just won a further four at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man. In comparison with the other sports in these events, we only get about one third of the funding the other sports receive so I really would like Sportscotland to explain their reasoning for this. I may be wrong in my beliefs but I’m starting to think it’s because boxing is a working class sport. But we will look to make the most of what we have been given.”