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Published in Sports Management 27 Jun 2016 issue 123
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue

Boxing clubs have a unique place in communities

Paul Steel,

Project Lead,

Box On, Sported


­Long before the phrase ‘sport for development’ had even been coined, boxing clubs were bringing communities together, developing young people’s skills and improving discipline – inside and outside of the ring.

The sport has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in recent years. Walk into a boxing club anywhere in the UK today and chances are you will find fitness and sparring sessions open to all ages, genders and abilities. Likewise, Sported members such as Empire Fighting Chance in Bristol or One Nation Community Centre in Sheffield, are proving that structured and tailored boxing programmes can be a highly effective and efficient method of tackling major societal issues, from mental health to crime and anti-social behaviour.

Boxing clubs have a unique place in the heart of our communities. Yet, for all their enduring success in engaging under-represented groups – in particular young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds – the future of many boxing clubs is far from guaranteed. Issues such as meeting costs, securing funding and managing assets are constant worries.

It’s for this reason Sported has partnered with England Boxing to launch the Box On programme. Combining capacity-building support with targeted investment, it’s helping boxing clubs in the most economically deprived areas of England develop the business knowledge, skills and plans they need to secure funding and improve their long-term sustainability. 

At a time when statistics show a worryingly persistent gap in participation figures between those from high and lower socio-economic backgrounds, we need to take a bottom-up approach and find new ways of supporting the amazing work already being done at grassroots level. 

As Box On demonstrates, collaboration in the sector will be key. Through combining our respective resources and expertise we can make great strides to breaking down barriers to participation and harnessing the unique power of sport to transform lives.

Sported’s new Box On initiative aims to help clubs in the most economically deprived areas / © sported
Sported’s new Box On initiative aims to help clubs in the most economically deprived areas/ © sported
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