BOXING clubs and the vital youth support they offer will suffer after being excluded from the Governments £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package, Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner has warned.

While other sports received shares of the Governments flagship £300m sports support package announced in November, boxing was excluded – leading to calls from a number of star boxers for the Government to ensure organisations and youth programmes can continue post-pandemic.

Now, in Northumbria, boxing clubs, firefighters and the Police and Crime Commissioner have joined together to call on the Government to do more.

In the North-East, through the commissioner Kim McGuinness’ violence reduction unit (VRU) a number of boxing clubs receive funds to deliver youth diversion and mentoring programmes, providing a safe space and alternative option to those who may otherwise engage in negative behaviours.

The commissioner has now written to the Government sports minister calling for action.

She said: “I have seen first-hand how boxing can give young people a structure to their lives, whilst engaging in a positive activity that develops them both physically and mentally.

“Through funding provided by my VRU we have local boxing clubs working with young people – diverting them away from criminality and an unfavourable lifestyle.”

One of the funded organisations, Jobes Boxing and Fitness Gym, which is based in the West End of Newcastle, claims young people who would usually be attending the gym have reverted back to criminal behaviour as a result of the closure and lack of engagement.

Matt Jobes, who head coach at the North-East club, said: “The gym shields young people from the temptations and dangers of the street and gangs, without them really even being aware.

"It’s a true tragedy that boxing gyms have had to close and not be able to offer our services to the young people.”

While professional and elite boxers can continue to train in gyms, recreational sessions and those targeted at supporting vulnerable young people have been put on hold.

Tyne and Wear Fire & Rescue Service, who also run boxing intervention programmes delivered by their own serving firefighters, have also seen the benefits the sport can bring – reducing ASB and nuisance complaints, whilst improving relationships between young people and their staff.

Chris Lowther, chief fire officer at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As a Service we are proud of the work already undertaken in our boxing hubs supporting the young people of our area, and have experienced positive engagement. This has been assisted greatly by the funding received from the Commissioner.

We believe that through these activities, young people can enhance, not just their physical health but also their mental wellbeing. Our highly trained coaches teach respect, discipline and self-belief which then builds confidence and improves life skills, which is why funding for such community initiatives is so important.”

The closure has seen coaches, as well as young people, impacted according to Grainger Park Boxing Club, another recipient of funding from the VRU.

The club added: “A number of our coaches have also struggled with their mental health and wellbeing. Two have referred themselves back to their GP for support and had to access specialist services.

The Commissioner has written to Nigel Huddleston, Sports Minister, as well as backing the call from Labour MP, Chris Evans, who chairs the All Parliamentary Group on Boxing.