By Ryan Gallacher & Fraser Clarke
Every member of the Team GB Boxing squad won a medal at this month’s Youth Olympics, and a Scottish boxing coach has hailed the sport’s progress nationwide.
There were gold medals on the final day of the tournament yesterday (18th October) for Britain’s Caroline Dubois and Karol Itauma, as well as a bronze for Hassan Azim, which means all four of the British boxing representatives ended the event with a medal.
Ivan Hope Price had won the flyweight title the day before.
Before this year’s event, Great Britain had never won a boxing medal at the Youth Olympics, and this success follows that of the likes of Anthony Joshua and Nicola Adams at the full Olympics.
Alec Mullen, coach at Irvine Vineburgh Boxing Club, has hailed the success of Britain’s amateur boxers, as well as the improved coverage surrounding them.
“It’s something that doesn’t get a lot of media, the youth Olympics.
“They don’t really make a name for themselves as much in amateurs, because professional boxing is more of a business. To be a business you need to try and sell and be a product, so a lot more of the media attention is on professional boxing instead of amateur boxing.
“Back 30 odd years ago when I boxed it was in the Daily Record. You’d get a big page in the Record or the Glasgow Herald, it used to have a lot of amateur boxing.”
Mullen also praised the influence of National Lottery funding, which he says has helped the sport in recent years:
“You never get anybody who makes it as a professional boxer without coming through the amateur setup.
“Since lottery funding came in, British amateur boxing has been a lot more successful, which has contributed to the professionals as well. Because what’s happening is that more of the top amateurs are now going into the professional game.
“These boxers who get into the lottery setup are on a wage, and surrounded by the top coaches, the top nutritionists, physios. They’ve got everything in the GB setup which only encourages boxers to strive to be better.
They get the competitions, they get their European competitions. If you medal at a European competition then it boosts your confidence for the next one, and that’s what boxing’s all about. Building confidence, believing in yourself.”
Irvine Vineburgh has a successful female boxing program, and Mullen was quick to point out how vital these achievements are in encouraging women to take up boxing.
“The success of women boxers is important for growing the sport, and there will be more girls from Britain who win medals.
“I think it is great that the women are being recognised more now, as boxing is more popular now than it has ever been.
“There are more professional boxers now than ever before.”
A former amateur boxer himself, Mullen highlighted the importance of funding to the continued British boxing boom: “Amateur boxing is more successful, and that is due to the lottery funding.
“They don’t need to go out on a building site now, they don’t have to juggle a 40-hour week or a 60-hour week with their boxing.
“They’re on a salary now that’s topped up by how many medals they win, how many competitions they do well in.
“There are more world champions coming out of Britain now than there ever was. It’s the lottery funding that’s contributing to all of this.”