Battersea boxing gym calls out lack of Government lockdown support

A Battersea boxing gym and community centre has criticised the Government for not offering enough support to grassroots boxing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Carney’s Community has continued to provide essential services in their area throughout the pandemic, while adhering to each iteration of lockdown rules.

Last week, Labour MP Chris Evans, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Boxing, wrote a letter to the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Nigel Huddleston, urging the Government to provide greater financial support to grassroots boxing clubs.

George Turner, Carney’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “Not supporting these boxing clubs only goes to show that the Government does not recognise or appreciate the roles many of these gyms have also played during this pandemic.

“As Chris Evans states, many of these boxing gyms are an essential fabric of their local communities that, in normal times, work with some of the most disadvantaged and disengaged young people.

“They teach them transferrable skills around honour, discipline, structure, routine, consistency, how to control emotions and the importance of following rules.

“We are proud to say that in a time where employment opportunities were cut drastically, we managed to help 15 participants into employment, our virtual sessions were viewed by 19,900 people and we have given out over 6,000 free meals.

“As soon as we were allowed to have contact we moved into the parks, delivering small group sessions. We were then able to start having small groups back in the centre.

“We continued with the food care packages but also started feeding the participants that came to the small group sessions.

“The reduction in the number of people allowed to engage in group activities meant we focused a lot more on the one to one support, where we worked on personal development, education, employment and reducing offending and anti-social behaviour.

“The energy of all involved was so positive that we even managed to get Stormzy involved. He contacted us via one of his friends, saying he wanted to help with the food care packages.”

“HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE BE THE BEST THEY CAN BE”: South West Londoner’s interview with Carney’s back in November.

Evans’ letter, which was also sent to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DMCS) Oliver Dowden, was signed by Anthony Joshua, Joe Joyce, Ricky Hatton, Eddie Hearn and other representatives of amateur and professional UK boxing.

The letter expressed disappointment at boxing being left out of the £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package in November.

It also pointed out that, without additional financial support, many clubs will face economic hardship, since they have to remain closed to the public until restrictions are lifted.

The letter added: “Nationally, the introduction of social distancing measures and limitations on pad work, sparring and competitions have constrained the ability of clubs to welcome members to train and raise revenue, while statistically over 40% of our nation’s clubs are in the top 20% of the most deprived areas in the UK and have limited access to external sources of funding.

“We urge you to reconsider your approach and make immediate assurances to provide equitable funding and support for boxing in 2021.”

DMCS and Huddleston were contacted for comment but did not respond.

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