Youth boxing in Portsmouth cancelled over '˜threat to life' police warning

A THREAT to life warning has forced the cancellation of a junior boxing championship, organisers have said.

Thursday, 31st March 2016, 12:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st March 2016, 1:26 pm
Mountbatten Centre Picture: Peter Noyce

England Boxing’s semi-final and final for under-16s were due to take place in Portsmouth at the Mountbatten Centre on Saturday and Sunday.

But a board member for the governing body has said police warned them they must cancel the national event over safety fears.

In a statement Giorgio Brugnoli said: ‘The police were clear that if the remaining events for the Junior Championship were not cancelled by England Boxing, they themselves would seek a court order to close the events.

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‘They were clear that not to cancel the events would jeopardise the safety of everyone involved - potentially to a life threatening degree.

‘With little more information, sadly we have very little choice in complying and ensuring the safety of the boxers and their coaches, families and supporters.’

Mr Brugnoli told The News the body had offered to run the events behind closed doors and at military base but police still refused to agree permissions. The organistion then cancelled the event.

Coach Darren Blair was hoping young boxer Amy Cooper, 15, would be successful in the competition.

Darren, from Gosport Boxing Club, said: ‘I’m absolutely devastated.

‘She’s been training harder than ever before.

‘She’s hoping to get picked for England – she’s got a point to prove.

‘The second she was ready for it this weekend it’s cancelled.

‘We’re going to lose amateur boxers.’

It comes after a championship of Western v Home Counties was cancelled, along with a round at York Hall in London.

Mr Brugnoli told The News: ‘The police have told use little or nothing, it’s intelligence it’s coming down from the intelligence team to the police and we’ve gone to them with various proposals with security and they said “sorry no”.

‘They said there’s a threat to the safety of the participants, to the spectators and to the officials.’

He said the police would go to court to get an order to stop the event from happening.

But England Boxing have now axed the event, splitting it into north and south events. The north championship will take place in Wakefield, North Yorkshire, on Sunday but no arrangements have been confirmed for the south event.

Superintendent Will Schofield, Portsmouth’s top police officer, said: ‘Hampshire Constabulary officers met with representatives from England Boxing yesterday to discuss plans for a sporting event to be held in Portsmouth.

‘At this meeting intelligence relating to ongoing investigations that may have an impact on this event was presented to the organisers.

‘Following discussion it was agreed by all parties that the event should be cancelled.

‘We hope to work with the organisers in future to run events in the county following a very positive discussion yesterday.’

Management at the Mountbatten Centre were also at the meeting.