Boxing: McCracken offers 2012 chances at new British Championship

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The Independent Online

Robert McCracken has sent a bold and welcome message to every single amateur boxer in Britain, both male and female, that the selection process for the 2012 Olympic Games is far from over.

McCracken, a former British light-middleweight champion as a professional, is the amateur sport's performance director and he has taken the unusual and potentially embarrassing step of agreeing to a new Great Britain Amateur Boxing Championship, to take place on 12-13 November at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

"This event will hopefully convince boxers and officials that the door is still open for a place in the squad for London," said McCracken, who also trains former world champion Carl Froch.

At the GB championships the quartet of boxers will be selected by the English, Scottish and Welsh associations with the fourth competitor being supplied from McCracken's podium squad of elite boxers. There will be semi-finals, a final on the Sunday, and the winner, assuming it is not a boxer from the podium squad, will receive an invite to officially join McCracken's Olympic dreamers.

"There are several weights where there are multiple choices and potential selection headaches, but those are the type of problems I like," added McCracken, who returned from the European championships in Moscow two months ago with five medals, the best haul for 50 years.

There will be 10 men's weights and just three for women at the London Games and, as the host nation, Britain will receive a total of six places, which is controversially expected to be divided five to one in favour of the men. To make way for the women (some of whom will have to gain or lose in excess of 12 pounds because only three of their 13 weight classes have been accepted) the men's light-flyweight category has been dropped.

Last week in Cardiff, Great Britain drew 6-6 with a Rest of the World team. Three of the nine elite women on the squad are currently at the European Championships in Hungary and the long and winding path to the 2012 Olympic Games continues today when British boxers meet Kazakhstan, China and France over two days of competition at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

"The only way to win medals at the Olympic Games is to meet the best boxers in the world," McCracken said. "This weekend in Sheffield there will be Olympic and world champions and our boxers will have to perform because there are no shortcuts and no secret routes. The road to London 2012 has started."