Billy Joe's backing for grassroots boxing

PUBLISHED: 15:09 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 22:28 26 October 2009

Billy Joe Saunders at his Hoddesdon gym

Billy Joe Saunders at his Hoddesdon gym

AS Hatfield boxer Billy Joe Saunders prepares himself for the life-changing opportunity of competing at the Beijing Olympics, he spared a thought for the sport at grassroots level. Saunders believes further funding is needed to continue to churn out the f

Billy Joe Saunders

AS Hatfield boxer Billy Joe Saunders prepares himself for the life-changing opportunity of competing at the Beijing Olympics, he spared a thought for the sport at grassroots level.

Saunders believes further funding is needed to continue to churn out the future superstars of the sport.

And his own club in Hoddesdon is one such venue that he thinks should be looked at by the local council.

The GB fighter said: "At the end of the day, for everyone involved in boxing, both here at the Hoddesdon Boxing Academy and nationwide, at grassroots level it's a full-time job, but only part-time pay.

"The coaches, secretaries and everyone involved are working every day, and rarely see funding come in which is sad for the sport."

Hoddesdon Boxing Academy coordinator Sab Leo agreed with Billy Joe's assessment.

"There's just no funding coming in from the local council, even though you can see everyone who comes here has a great time as well as learning a lot.

"We're always looking for more funding and sponsorship, and we have a well run club here at Hoddesdon."

Saunders has been training at the Hoddesdon club for the last two years, having spent the previous 10 years training in Cheshunt.

He said: "The coaching you receive here is great, and they are always eager to help in any way they can.

"I would urge anyone interested to come down, as everyone has a great time."

The 19-year-old welterweight, who lives with his family on a travellers' caravan site on the outskirts of Hatfield, also spoke of his delight at getting to the Olympics.

He put a lot down to the training and skills he has been taught at Hoddesdon.

"My family are very proud of where I've got too, and for me it's a dream come true," said Billy Joe.

"I like to think I have done it for the community I live in, and now I just can't wait for Beijing, although I know there's a long way to go."

Saunders is due to fight in a tournament being held out in Finland this week.


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