A LACK of funding is threatening wreck the dreams of four North-East Thai boxers selected to represent their country in the world championships.

The athletes, all members of the same County Durham club, have been selected for England in the high-profile event in Thailand in April.

It is a remarkable achievement for the Kings Cobra team, which will provide the bulk of the seven-strong national squad for the championships.

The event has attracted 67 national teams and will be seen by an estimated world-wide television audience of 700 million.

Those selected for England are cruiserweight Nick Hands from Durham City, Spennymoor welterweight Dave Berriman, light-heavyweight Gary McAllister and middleweight Lee Smith, both from Newton Aycliffe.

The team is trained by Sean Dooney, who received a personal invitation from the Thai Government, under the patronage of the country's Royal Crown Prince, to attend the prestigious competition.

But despite the best efforts of its main sponsor, Rothco Group Ltd, the team still needs to find about £5,000 to compete.

Mr Dooney said: "It must be remembered that the sport is amateur and is fully reliant on public and corporate support.

"It is imperative to make the lads' dream become a reality and, with this in mind, the camp's representatives will be calling upon local businesses and prominent individuals to get behind the team.

"It would be a travesty to leave England without a team for such a small amount of funds."

The team has its main base in Spennymoor but uses other satellite centres for training, courtesy of Sedgefield Borough Council and other local authorities.

Anyone able to sponsor the team is asked to contact Mr Dooney on (01740) 623919.