Supporters claim women’s boxing will contribute to 2012’s sporting legacy
The announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to include women’s amateur boxing in the programme for the London 2012 Olympics has been acclaimed as a historic decision by a wide cross-section from sport and politics.
The Sports Minister, The Mayor of London and the former World Super Middleweight World Champion, Richie Woodhall, joined with the Amateur Boxing Associations of Wales, Scotland and England to welcome the announcement.
Supporters said the decision reflected the growing popularity of women’s boxing which has seen elite and grassroots participation soar in recent years.
They claimed the pool of talent, which includes nearly 700 registered female boxers in Great Britain, has the potential to enhance Team GB’s medal prospects at 2012 and contribute to the delivery of the games’ sporting legacy.
Derek Mapp, Chairman of the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA) said: “Today’s historic decision is good news for boxing and good news for the 2012 Olympics. Boxing is an accessible sport with broad appeal and its proven ability to reach and inspire the most socially excluded people and communities will make a meaningful contribution to the delivery of 2012’s sporting legacy.”
Minister for Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe, said: "This move is a massive boost for women's boxing and will give female boxers the chance to showcase their talents on the biggest sporting stage. I am sure that our British talent will relish the opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd in 2012 and will help raise the profile of women's boxing at all levels."
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, added: "It's wonderful news that women will now be able to showcase their sparring skills and compete at the greatest sporting event in the world. Their addition to the 2012 Games creates a fantastic new dimension which will attract thousands more followers and legions of fans for the sport over the coming years. Their inclusion at the London Games will help increase grassroots sport participation in the capital and I intend to use this once in a lifetime opportunity to get more London adults and youngsters involved in sport."
The former WBC Super Middleweight World Title holder and a coaching consultant to the BABA's elite coaching programme, Richie Woodhall, added: "I have seen at first hand the massive improvements that have taken place in competitive women's amateur boxing over the last few years and today's decision is a well deserved reward for all of the people, particularly the boxers, that have contributed to the expansion of the sport at the grassroots and the elite level."
The decision was welcomed by two members of the England women’s team.
Three-time ABA title winner and EU Champion, Sharon Holford, 29, from Rotherham said: “The Olympics is the pinnacle for any amateur sports person so it is fantastic that women boxers have at last been given the opportunity to take part in the ultimate celebration of sport.
“Boxing is open and accessible to anyone with talent and commitment and it is a great reward for the hundreds of women that compete in the sport that they will now get the chance to compete on the biggest stage of all.”
22 year-old Hannah Beharry from London who secured a bronze medal at the recent EU Championships in Bulgaria added: “The opportunity to take part in the Olympics, especially in my home city of London, is huge opportunity and will really help to inspire me and all the other women at my boxing club in the next three years.”
Support from all of the home nations
The news was also welcomed by the Amateur Boxing Associations (ABAs) in Wales, Scotland and England.
David Francis, General Secretary, Welsh Amateur Boxing Ltd, said: "Women's boxing has made great strides in recent years and it is excellent news that they will now be given the opportunity to compete for Olympic medals. The decision is a fitting reward for all of the people that have worked hard to improve the technical quality of women's boxing and get recognition for the sport."
Richard Thomas, Chief Executive, Amateur Boxing Scotland explained:"We are committed to supporting and developing women's boxing in Scotland and are already investing in the sport. This decision will be a huge help and will provide inspiration at the grassroots and a real goal to aim for at the elite level."
Rebecca Gibson, National Women's Boxing Development Manager at the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE), added: “The decision reflects the increasing popularity of women’s boxing at every level. In the last five years we have seen huge increases in grassroots participation coupled with a ten-fold increase in the number of women involved in competitive boxing. The expansion of the pool of talent saw our boxers win a number of gold medals at the recent EU Championships and this can only auger well for Team GB’s medal prospects at 2012.”
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Note to editors:
• There are nearly 700 registered female boxers in the UK (in 2005, there were fewer than 70)
• 256 clubs in England currently provide for women and girls (35% of ABAE clubs)
• Amateur boxing federations in more than 120 countries licence women’s boxing
• 500,000 licensed participants practice women’s boxing worldwide
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