Amateurs want a fighting chance

THERE is aggro in Scotland's boxing community. It owes to the strange case of promising young Scottish boxers being denied the chance to compete in a prestigious UK-wide tournament, whose list of previous winners comprises a roll call of British boxing talent: Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Prince Nazeem and Frank Bruno.

Scotland's young boxers are apparently being denied the chance to add their names to that list by Amateur Boxing Scotland, a governing body that exists "to promote and enable the participation of young boxers in amateur boxing."

It is, says one club, a "shameful situation," which concerns a boxing competition organised by Clubs for Young People (Scotland). CYP is a UK-wide umbrella body for all manner of youth sports clubs and organisations – and they organise UK-wide events, including a boxing championship.

The final, to be staged at Stamford Bridge early next month, features the best from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But not, alas, from Scotland because the qualifying event, scheduled to be held in Alloa last month, was cancelled when ABS withdrew the permit that allowed it to take place.

Tom Leishman, chief executive of CYPS, was incandescent when he heard that the permit had been withdrawn just three days before the qualifying event was due to be held. It was the third year, he says, it has happened, "without one specific valid reason being given".

"ABS has conjured up irrational reasons every year for not awarding a permit. We have submitted to all barriers put in our way in order to give young people this opportunity. ABS is denying hundreds of young boxers the opportunity of international experience against their peers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland," Leishman continued.

"Last year's finals were televised on Sky and held at the new Wembley Arena as a black tie event. This year, entries for the CYP boxing events (across the rest of the UK] are up 40 per cent on last year. What chance do the young boxers of Scotland have if this important and challenging event is denied to them by the very people who are there to promote the sport?"

Leishman says he can think of no logical reason for ABS's opposition to the event. "It can only be jealousy," he suggests. Despite approaches to sportscotland and "costly legal advice" there has been no progress, and little light shed on the reasons for ABS's refusal to sanction the event.

So what does ABS have to say to it? Contact was made on Friday, but a response was deferred until yesterday, when a board meeting was due to formulate a "statement" clarifying their stance. As of last night, however, the governing body has not responded. Their refusal to allow the CYP event to be held remains, for the moment, a mystery.

MacIntyre fund cash nears 28k

SINCE the tragic death of Jason MacIntyre, the British champion cyclist, a fund established in his memory has raised close to 28,000. MacIntyre died last month after colliding with a vehicle while out training near his home in Fort William; an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The money is to go to MacIntyre's family, to help care for his twin daughters, Morgan, who was born with only one kidney, and Chloe, who is registered blind. In response, his widow, Caroline, has released a statement on the website of the Braveheart Cycling Fund, which organised the memorial fund.

"I would like to start by thanking everyone at Braveheart, Scottish cycling, British cycling and the rest of the cycling community all over Britain and, it would seem, all around the world," writes Caroline MacIntyre. "The kindness and generosity of people I hardly know, and the majority of whom I haven't met, is overwhelming."

Caroline has posted pictures of Jason and his daughters on the website, "as it is nice to put a face to the little girl whose life will be helped greatly by the Braveheart Jason MacIntyre Memorial Fund and the amazing people who have taken time out of their day to donate." She writes that, although Morgan – for whom Jason was also a full-time carer – was unable to attend many of her father's races, she did see him in action once, close to the Glasgow hospital that performed a kidney transplant.

The cycling community continues to offer support, adds Caroline. The Fund's patron, Chris Hoy, has invited her to be his guest at next weekend's 'Revolution' track meeting at the Manchester velodrome.

Women boxers gain support for 2012

STILL with boxing, and although Amateur Boxing Scotland couldn't manage to respond to the charges made by Clubs for Young People, it does appear willing to tentatively endorse a campaign to have women's boxing introduced to the Olympics in time for London in 2012.

The campaign is to be launched soon, with a website, www.letthembox.org, to publicise the cause, which seems a valid one. After all, boxing is the only Olympic sport that does not include a women's event.

The IOC is expected to make a decision on this and other proposed changes to the Olympic programme in 2009.

Donald Campbell of ABS says the number of female boxers in Scotland is low. A women's event was organised two years ago, but it attracted only four entries, none of the same weight. In Wales, England and especially Ireland, there are many female fighters.

"We'd support women's boxing at the Olympics," says Campbell, "though we have had problems getting women coming forward. Female boxers are very skilful.

"The only problem I see is that if they add women's boxing to the Olympics then they'll probably drop a couple of male weights."