With the United Kingdom government announcing a £300 million “Sport Winter Survival Package” for spectator sports in England, designed to protect the short-term futures of various sports, including but not limited to rugby union, horse racing, women’s football (soccer for the Americans), and “lower tiers of the National League football,” boxing has been left out, and Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn is hoping to change that quickly.
To be clear here, Hearn is not asking for his company to receive funding, nor for other top-level promoters. Boxing has had struggles across the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the big promoters have been able to come through and find ways to survive and get through, and figure to do the same until crowds are able to return and things work their way back to normal.
What Hearn wants to see is support for the sport’s “grassroots” level, the clubs and gyms and what have you. It’s similar to what we’ve heard from smaller American promoters and smaller gyms in the States. This is a brutal, almost impossible time for those who aren’t at the top level of boxing.
Here is Hearn’s letter to the British government on the matter:
“Matchroom Boxing recognizes the importance of boxing at a grassroots level, not only for the sport but for the communities they serve. We urge the government to do the same,” Hearn wrote.
“Boxing helps to tackle obesity and improve mental health, reduces the threat of gang and knife crime and instills discipline, manners and respect into the next generation.
“At an elite level we have had to overcome great difficulties during the pandemic but we will ride it out — the local community clubs simply cannot. I ask the government to reconsider its position and give grassroots boxing some much-needed financial help.”
Hearn concludes by inviting a discussion on the matter, and also suggests they visit a boxing gym and “see the vital work they do with the community.”
It’s a good gesture by Eddie, not only because if the grassroots level of boxing crumbles, the higher end of the sport eventually crumbles with it, but because it’s simply a good thing to do for those in the sport who really are in serious need of help keeping things alive at this point.