LACK OF GONGS IS ALL WRONG
By Frank Warren
Once again, the sport of boxing was given short shrift when they were handing out the gongs in the New Year’s honours list.
It is increasingly difficult to fathom the logic that is applied to the awarding of these honours. It used to be the case that they were very much rooted in good works for charity or in the community, no matter what you might have achieved in your chosen field.
We appear to have shifted away from this and into populist nominations, certainly in sporting circles, where Olympic success now seems to automatically translate into the booking of a Royal appointment.
I haven’t really got an issue with sporting success being recognised, but it all has to begin somewhere and those people who tirelessly devote themselves to providing sporting opportunities at grassroots level unfortunately seem to have dropped off the pecking order.
Society has long suffered with many ills and I suspect crime, drug abuse and antisocial behaviour are top of the charts in many inner city areas. That is why the good people who harness the energies of youngsters and channel it in a positive direction via various sporting disciplines are surely deserving of huge recognition.
The sport of boxing at local gyms and clubs across the country is probably unsurpassed when it comes to steering wayward young people onto the straight and narrow.
To use a modern phrase, it ticks all the boxes.
It instils respect, teaches discipline, creates a high level of fitness and wellbeing, while also promoting healthy eating. The sugar intake of kids has been in the news this week with the revelation that most of the recommended intake is consumed at breakfast time.
I suspect this is not the case for those who glove up as an after-school activity because the coaches will also impart dietary advice as well as demonstrating how to throw a snappy left jab.
These people are not just boxing trainers, they are life coaches who become mentors to their young charges. The welcome mat is rolled out to young people from all walks of life and do so much to promote harmony between kids of all ethnic backgrounds.
Certainly for the most part, these good folk do not get paid and carry out this fine work in their own time. It seems to me that their efforts are being overlooked by those in power, which just isn’t right, especially when you see them dishing out honours to cronies and luvvies.
That is not what it is supposed to be about.
As much as you respect someone like Victoria Beckham being honoured for her work travelling around the world with the UN, I wouldn’t mind betting she flies on a first class ticket.
There are no such comforts enjoyed in a sweaty gym, where doors are open all year round to keep kids off the street.
The people who carry out these good works are the bedrock of society and recognition really should be forthcoming.
People don’t look down their nose at the sport in the way they perhaps once did. Boxing is fashionable nowadays and the proof of the pudding comes with the coverage the big broadcasters now afford it.
But every success story in the ring has an opening chapter and it all starts at grassroots level under the watchful eye of a local volunteer coach.
These people, more than most, are fully deserving of a Royal tap on the shoulder.
Having said that, it was nice to see Nicola Adams up there as boxing’s lone representative – but if Andy Murray and Mo Farah are worth knighthoods then surely World, European and Commonwealth champion Nicola , as the world’s first female Olympic boxing gold medallist, a double Olympic champion at that should have been made a dame instead of an OBE. She’s worth it just for the joy her bubbly personality has brought to British sport.
More from Frank tomorrow