Following Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday that the easing of restrictions will go ahead as planned on April 12, amateur and grassroots boxing gyms across the region will be sweeping their ring aprons and dusting off their head guards ahead of the expected influx of young and hopeful boxers.
Boxing gyms and venues will be permitted to reopen, subject to meeting the criteria for indoor venues previously established during the pandemic.
Although some limitations and restrictions will remain in place, it’s with a big sigh of relief that the gym owners, trainers and boxers alike will be back doing what they love the most.
The last year has been the toughest for all disciplines of fighters and quite a few have left the sport completely.
I have spoken to quite a few recently who were, up until last year, fortunate to be able to train full time as professional boxers with the help of steady income from fight purses as well as sponsorship deals.
Both of those income streams dried up when Covid took hold and lockdown was ordered. With no fight dates for the vast majority of fighters, the boxers drifted away from the gym and had to get a job to keep the bills paid.
A few things concern me, firstly that some really good talented prospects have left the sport for good and found life after boxing.
Secondly, professional journeyman, some used to fight fortnightly, have also left the sport, meaning the prospects don’t have those early experience fights that aid with the transition from the amateur to the paid ranks.
Finally, and probably most importantly, with amateur and white collar clubs closed, the steady production line of boxers wanting to turn professional was turned off overnight and who knows how long that will take to return to some kind of normality.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, with each stage of the roadmap being reached and restrictions slowly being lifted, I am getting quite a few messages from fighters who do want to turn professional, so that’s positive.
With our first return show pencilled in for MECA in September, let’s hope that some of these boxers have been keeping in shape and are ready to go toe-to-toe again for Swindon’s brilliant fight fans.