ANY hopes to reschedule national championships for later this year have had to be abandoned. Last week England Boxing announced that the Senior national championships ultimately cannot take place in 2020. The Development championships have been cancelled and similarly the English, Scottish and Welsh federations have confirmed that the Three Nations championships cannot take place. Nor would it be possible to complete the final stages of the Junior championships in September.
The boxers who have reached the semi-finals of the Juniors championships will be awarded a finalist medal, those boxers will have their names on the role of honour and, in the event there is an international competition, would have an assessment on the England Talent pathway.
Boxing clubs have only been able to open their doors from July 25 and the kind of training that can take place remains drastically restricted to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus as a result of the government guidance on social distancing.
England Boxing stated: “At the outset can we stress we recognise how frustrating and disappointing this is and the problems it causes. We continue to lobby the government through the appropriate channels, however the safety of, and liability risk to our members and clubs remains our overriding priority in regards to the guidance we provide.”
Furthermore club shows, regional events and Box Cups cannot take place in September or October, mainly because the regulations around the two metre gap for social distancing mean padwork, sparring or competitive boxing are prohibited at present. Even if that distancing were reduced, which is unlikely, it would still mean sparring or boxing wouldn’t be possible and any change on that is not expected to allow sufficient time for the championships. This lay off also has to be factored in for the weight classifications in the championships, especially for Juniors and more time is necessary anyway for boxers to get to fitness and ready for competition safely. It terms of staging a competition as well it would be difficult practically with limits on numbers, requirements for social distancing and the financial burden. Professional shows are going ahead with testing, a handful of contests and participants being isolated in accommodation. It would be very difficult to replicate that in amateur boxing. There are also further complications with the risks of second spikes and local lockdowns.
“We fully understand the disappointment and problems this will cause. However and as stated, due to the restrictions of the government guidelines and that safety has to remain the priority, we have been left with little other option than to cancel the National Championships for this year,” England Boxing continued in their statement.
At the start of lockdown England Boxing reduced the club and membership fees for the 2020/2021 season, which was also delayed until September 1. Some regions also agreed to cover the remaining half of club membership fees. In light of these ongoing issues the national federation has also agreed that those clubs in membership at the end of March 2020 will automatically become members for 2020/21 season at no additional cost. England Boxing stress that this is for this season only and will release further details on how the process will be managed. (They will however still maintain individual membership fees which England Boxing encourage members to renew if for no other reason than to ensure the insurance protection is in place.)
Following these announcements England Boxing also said that due to the current government regulations they would not currently be issuing Permissions To Box Abroad or permitting travel to train or box in the Home Nations. “There are a few issues concerning boxing abroad at the moment, not least the fact that our boxers cannot fully train in order to be adequately prepared,” they stated. “Please be assured we will keep this under review and look to amend as and when the regulations change, but it’s not anticipated that these changes are imminent. Anyone considering boxing abroad should contact the England Boxing office for advice prior to booking anything associated with the trip.”
ANOTHER YEAR TO GO, AGAIN
BOXING at the Tokyo Olympic Games should have been well underway this week. Instead, of course, the coronavirus pandemic has seen the Olympics postponed by a year.
“Twelve months ago, no-one could have predicted the situation in which we find ourselves today. Instead of preparing for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games, we are training at the GB Boxing gym in Sheffield with coaches in personal protective equipment and boxers wearing face masks,” reflected GB performance director Rob McCracken. “We are aware that the situation with Covid-19 is far from over and it has been a major disruption to the plans we had in place. But it is important to try and take the positives from this situation and though no-one would ever have chosen this to happen, the lockdown and its aftermath has given us time to reflect on what we have and make new plans for the future.
“Twelve months ago, when people asked for my thoughts on the status of the world class performance programme with one year to go until Tokyo, I was cautiously optimistic. At that point we had a strong group of talented and experienced men that had a track record of winning medals at major competitions. The women’s squad was a newer group and though talented they did not quite have the medal-winning pedigree of the men’s squad. [But] today the situation is different. The men have continued to go from strength-to-strength and enjoyed more success in the course of 2019, most notably when the team returned from the 2019 world championships in Moscow with three medals – our best performance at that event since 2011. The men are a battle-hardened group of talented boxers. And although some of them were understandably disappointed to have to wait for 12 more months, the fact that none of the men have been lured to the professional ranks shows they are as committed as ever to representing Team GB in Tokyo.”
“The women have had an equally positive last 12 months,” he continued. “The team featured two exciting new additions in Charley Davison and Caroline Dubois, who both went on to win their first bouts at the qualifier [before it was suspended]. Alongside them was the current World champion, Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall, who enjoyed the best 12 months year of her career in 2019 when she won silver at the European championships and bronze at the worlds.
“I am confident that as long as our boxers continue to work hard and develop that we can deliver yet more success for Team GB when the Games finally get underway.”