Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

All amateur fights are suspended after US boxing boss says all female fighters either abused or gay

Decision comes after USA Boxing keeps Hal Adonis on the board despite his inflammatory comments
  • @guyadams

Amateur boxing has been brought to a juddering halt across the US amid a dispute over controversial remarks by Hal Adonis, a former president of the sport's governing body, about child abuse, rape, and homosexuality.

Mr Adonis gave an interview to The New Yorker earlier this year in which he declared that being abused as an infant provided a perfect preparation for a career in women's boxing. "Half of our girls have been molested, half of our girls are gay," he told the magazine.

Mr Adonis, pictured, who had run USA Boxing since 2009, added: "When kids call me up, I say: 'Let me ask you an honest question: have your parents ever hit you?' If they say no, I say: 'I don't think you belong in boxing.'"

The remarks saw Mr Adonis sacked. However, USA Boxing has refused a subsequent request from the International Boxing Association (AIBA), the sport's global governing body, to remove him completely from its board of directors.

On Wednesday, the AIBA announced it was therefore suspending USA Boxing for three months, meaning all amateur-boxing events across the country will be cancelled. It also means that the nation's amateur-boxing clubs will temporarily lose their insurance and must therefore suspend all activities.

Mr Adonis has been on the front line of criticism since the run-up to the Olympic Games, when he made a series of unguarded comments to a New Yorker reporter.

A former fighter turned trainer, Mr Adonis claimed he'd benefited in the sport from having a father who "invented child abuse" and used to hit him across the face with a belt. "When I got on to the streets and got into boxing, I was so used to getting hit it was like, hey, this is nothing!" he declared.

As a trainer of young boxers, he revealed: "Before a fight I'd start smacking them real hard in the face. Because you feel, in boxing, the first couple of punches. After that, the endorphins kick in and it's like someone gave you novocaine." And gesturing at a female fighter, he added: "Let me tell you a story about her: she was raped by a member of her family when she was a little girl! Half of our girls have been molested; half of our girls are gay."

In a statement about the suspension, the AIBA said: "By failing to remove Mr Adonis from the USA Boxing board of directors when it had the chance to do so, USA Boxing, in essence, endorsed Mr Adonis's statements and sent out a message that such behaviour was acceptable."