From the Other Side of the Ditch: Boxing Governance Contrasts Between New Zealand and Australia

Sports correspondent & historian
with Sideline Sid

This week’s edition is being written from the other side of the ditch with Sideline Sid and his long suffering wife taking a break in sunny Queensland.

The two-fold reason for the trip across the Tasman is to escape the escape the start of winter and to visit family on the Sunshine Coast.

Twenty-five degrees and not a cloud in the sky beats a chilly day in the Western Bay of Plenty, by a country mile.

Last Saturday night we were in the familiar surroundings of a boxing tournament, with the Caloundra City Boxing Club, staging the eighth edition of their annual War of the World’s fight night.

Amateur boxing tournaments have a familiar feel to this writer with the pre-bouts preparation mirroring tournaments organised by Boxing New Zealand.

However the control of the amateur competition in Australia is in marked contrast to NZ.

The NZ Boxing Association, which became today’s Boxing NZ, dates back to 1902 and is the only body that conducts amateur boxing in the country.

Amateur boxing in Australia reflects a country where Federal and State politics wage a battle to run the country.

Boxing Australia, like Boxing NZ, is the founding body of the sport in the country and is nationwide holding Olympic Games recognition and participation rights.

Australians like nothing better than a fight for recognition and stewardship of their own direction.

Some four or so decades ago, a group dissatisfied with the direction of the Australian Boxing Association broke away and formed the Australian Boxing League.

The League and Association then waged a war of words that contains to this day.

The dawn of the new millennium, saw the Queensland-based Australian Boxing Council formed, with that has a big membership of affiliated clubs in the Sunshine State.

Boxing Australia likes to think that they own the amateur sport, and don’t allow ABL and the ABC boxers to fight in their tournaments.

Australian League and Council associations enjoy a harmonious relationship and fighters from both bodies regularly box at each other’s tournaments and national championships.

Saturday night’s ABC tournament in Caloundra, saw a number of New South Wales League boxers travel big distances to cross the border in search of competitive contests.

The overarching NSW Combat Sports Authority, which is a State entity, has become fixated on a paper war of authority that many clubs find difficult to comply with.

No better example, is the NSW minimum age to enter the ring being 14 years of age while Queensland age-group box compete at 12, driving clubs over the border to get bouts for their promising youngsters.

The reality is the any League or Council boxers, with Olympic or Commonwealth Games representation dreams, must cut their links with their controlling associations and join a BA gym.

As a former Boxing NZ administrator, it is nice to reflect on the international opportunities afforded all Kiwi male and female amateur boxers, on our side of the Tasman.

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