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Exclusive: Eddie Hearn Urges New Labour Government to Use Boxing to Tackle Knife Crime

The new Labour government should use boxing to help combat knife crime, according to Eddie Hearn.

Neil Goulding
Neil Goulding

Last Updated: 2024-07-11

Louis Hobbs

5 minutes read

Matchroom Boxing's promoter Eddie Hearn speaks at the Johnny Fisher vs Alen Babic Final Press Conference

Hearn’s Call to Action

Speaking after Sir Keir Starmer’s party won a landslide victory at the general election, which is expected to grant them sweeping powers over the next five years, the Matchroom promoter told ministers that the Noble Art represents the best and most cost-effective way of tackling the issue.

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The country, with kids carrying knives, is out of control,” said Hearn, who’s stable includes Anthony Joshua, Jack Catterall and Katie Taylor. “I’m not saying this completely solves the problem, but it definitely helps.”

The Transformative Power of Boxing

“It gives kids opportunities to shape their character and personality. They don’t have to become boxers. It changes their mentality,” he told SportsBoom.com.

“What aggravates me more than anything is there’s such a cost-effective way to make improvements for the community, the development of young people and to have a positive impact on crime, gangs and particularly knife crime.”

Rise in Knife Crime

With official statistics revealing a 20 percent rise in offences involving knives and other offensive weapons among 10- to 17-year-olds compared to a decade ago, Hearn has labelled the issue “a scourge” of modern society.

Earlier this year, as part of a campaign to help amateur boxing clubs threatened with closure, he began petitioning politicians to ensure the necessary funding is channelled into the sport’s grassroots.

Acknowledging that taking such a step could prove controversial in some quarters, given boxing’s sometimes controversial image, Hearn insisted it is important to recognise its ability to transform lives. 

Boxing as a Life-Changing Influence

Joshua, the former Olympic and former world heavyweight champion who fights Daniel Dubois for the IBF title in September, has previously spoken about how it put him on the right path following a spell on remand in prison.

“The government spends all this money - and wastes a huge amount of money - without really looking at the intrinsic problems we have within communities.”

“When you go to a boxing club and you see kids from the estate and think: ‘You look like a right handful, you’re a scallywag,’ but boxing saves them from that world and gives them a life education.”

A Sense of Belonging

“For some people, who don’t have a role model or don’t have a family, it gives them a sense of belonging among the community.”

“You very rarely see kids who go to boxing clubs who get into trouble.”

Impact on Local Communities

Detailing a recent visit to Lynn Athletic, the oldest continuing amateur boxing club in the country which had been threatened with closure until Hearn intervened, he continued: “When we went there in Peckham, it was shut down.”

“I said to the guys ‘How long have you been shut?’ They said three months. That’s forty or 50 kids every night, potentially going back into the system.”

“Everything they learnt and all the encouragement they got, that evaporates out of them. Then they have one bad conversation, with the negativity, and they’ve gone the other way.”

Personal Testimony

Confirming his own daughter has enrolled on a boxing course near their family home in Essex, Hearn urged policymakers to ensure those in charge of overseeing amateur programmes are recompensed for their efforts; financially or otherwise.

“The help that these clubs need is mainly for the volunteers,” he said. “My daughter goes to Brentford Boxing Club.”

“The people there are in every night of the week from 5pm to 9pm. How selfless is that?”

“They can’t say ‘I don’t fancy it tonight; shall we lock it up?’ They are serving the community.”

“These people are heroes. In the grand scheme of things, we aren’t talking about a great deal of money.”

The Need for Political Engagement

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These politicians, they don’t go. All they’ve got to do is take a few trips down to them

Hearn

“My daughter, she goes to private school and Brentford Boxing Club,” Hearn added. “I’ve seen the confidence grow in her.”

“She mixes with all sorts there, different races, upbringings, homes and situations.”

“It just makes them so well rounded. It’s frustrating because it isn’t even difficult to do,” Hearn concluded.

Neil Goulding
Neil GouldingSenior Sports Reporter

Neil has been a journalist for longer than he'd care to remember, having written for national newspapers and respected publications for over 25 years. For the last three years he has worked freelance for BBC Sport, working on the production desk as a sub-editor and also as a writer, covering a whole range of sports.