Boxing: ABA hit by body blow: Mike Rowbottom on the Sports Council's attempt to get amateur boxing to put its troubled house in order

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The Independent Online
THE Amateur Boxing Association has received what, in financial terms, amounts to a hard punch to the body from the Sports Council after failing to reorganise its administration, and now risks losing its total annual grant of pounds 130,000.

A recent review, conducted by two Sports Council representatives and 15 from the ABA itself, recommended the appointment of a full-time administrator who would supervise a range of other changes within the body.

But the ABA rejected such an appointment at its annual meeting last month, a decision which caused 'total frustration' within the Sports Council and led to the pounds 22,000 earmarked for an administrator's salary being withheld. The Council also refused the ABA's request that this sum be ploughed back into the main grant.

The Council is seeking a meeting with the ABA before the end of this month at which it intends to underline the strength of its feeling that amateur boxing in this country needs to establish a new organisation for the 1990s.

'We will use such muscle as we have to put their house in order,' David Pickup, the Sports Council's director general, said. The ultimate use of that muscle would be to withhold the entire annual grant of pounds 130,000, although Pickup conceded that such an action would be akin to dropping a nuclear bomb.

'We will not lose patience because we have got to bear in mind the individual boxers rather than the administrators,' a spokesman added.

Nevertheless, the veiled threat is there as the feeling of frustration in the Council is widespread. One of the issues which is felt necessary to be addressed most urgently is the position of boxers who move up to the professional ranks without success and then find themselves unable to return to the sport at an amateur level. Such a return is possible in other European countries, such as the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the Foundation for Sports and the Arts, set up by the football pools companies last year to provide an annual total of pounds 60m in awards, has dropped Pickup from his postition as an adviser.

Given the Sports Council's recently expressed support for the idea of the national lottery, anathema to the pools companies, the Foundation now feels that a continued connection with the Council, in the form of Pickup, is 'inappropriate'.

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