Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom says he’s “disgusted” with the grassroots boxing not benefiting from the government’s £300 million support package for elite sport and bailouts for rugby union and horse racing.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston announced a fund to support 11 sports which will lose significant revenues over the winter. Rugby and racing will be the biggest beneficiaries, awarded £135 million and £40 million respectively.
Hearn criticised the decision, because amateur boxing clubs are closing down and smaller promoters are unable to stage events due to the current COVID restrictions that prevent live crowds.
“It’s so disgusting that the government are not supporting grassroots boxing,” said Hearn to The Independent at the launch of The National Lottery and ITV’s Miss Out to Help Out project.
“A huge amount of money is going into rugby and horse racing, yet nothing into a sport that’s saving people’s lives and that’s because they’re so far removed from those communities. They have no idea what boxing does in the community. They’ve never been to an ABC boxing club. You would only have to walk into one to see the kind of kids who are in there.
“It’s keeping kids off the street, it’s keeping them physically in shape, mentally focused, it’s keeping them driven. Yet you want to put money into horse racing. These kids aren’t going to gravitate towards horse racing or rugby. There’s too many barriers to entry. You can walk into a boxing club around the corner in your community and change your life.
“It’s down to a lack of understanding about what is important deep within communities. It’s a lack of understanding about the sport of boxing, and they don’t take any notice or care about it. Go and talk to Anthony Joshua about what boxing did for him and where he’d be without boxing – in prison, dead, anything. They can help so many community clubs survive.
“Clubs are doing everything they can to survive every day with the help of local businesses, but those businesses can’t afford to support them any more. They’re always fighting a losing battle, but now, they’ve got no chance. We could lose many of them. There are plenty of other sports that should have received the money other than boxing – any sport that’s giving back to the community. It could be karate, athletics, other things in the community that make a big difference – but not horse racing and that much money for rugby.
“You can’t just say – ‘I quite like rugby union, I think that’s good for the kids, yes, I’ll put in £100 million’. You’re letting these kids and these communities down so badly because it shows a lack of understanding about the real world. All sports rely on volunteers and need help.”