New professional boxers' union hopes to be main representative body for the sport in the UK
Two Burgess Hill businessmen hope their new professional boxers’ union will act as the main representative body for the sport in the UK.
Henry Foulkes and Kenny Pearce have set up the Professional Boxers’ Affiliation (PBA) to protect the mental well-being of professional boxers, give them career advice on financial planning and pensions and eventually ease their transition into retirement.
The PBA will achieve this by representing the interests of boxers and looking to protect the welfare of professional boxers after retirement.
The PBA will also help boxers during and after their career by giving them advice and support about their secondary career outside of the sport.
Foulkes, who is co-chief executive of the PBA, said: "It is obvious to us and everyone we’ve spoken to within the sport that this type of support for boxers is greatly needed.
"We decided to use our free time throughout lockdown to explore what sort of organisations or support there currently is for boxers but after various stages of research, we discovered there was very little for boxers throughout their career and in retirement.
"We will offer a welfare system that has previously never existed within the boxing world, replicating other player association bodies such as the PFA, PCA and the PJA who go to great lengths to take care of the athletes in their respected sports.
“Our partnerships with mental well-being charities, financial planners, career transition companies will give PBA members free access to all these services throughout their boxing careers and in retirement.”
Foulkes said it was hard to see boxers’ well-being suffer after retirement.
He added: "As fans of the sport, it’s awful to see our heroes and those who seriously sacrifice their health and well-being when stepping into ring struggle with mental health and financial difficulties when retired.
"Unfortunately, it doesn’t fall into the jurisdiction of any of the current bodies in the sport to support retired boxers, which is why it is absolutely pivotal a new body is created that can liaison with the current bodies are provide necessary after-care for all boxers in the UK.
"It’s widely known how difficult the majority of sportspersons find it when they retire, through identity issues and the struggle to improve their holistic development.
Even if they do find themselves as part of the lucky ones, they’ll most probably still find themselves feeling lost after leaving the sport behind.
"It is something they’ve dedicated their whole lives to and have been known by the wider public as 'a boxer' when this is taken away from them through age or injury, it is very difficult to replicate the feeling of having your name in the lights and being cheered on by fans.
"This is unfortunately the root cause of many mental health struggles they face when in retirement.
“There is a void in the sport when it comes to providing welfare support for boxers so, in the future, we want to become an established organisation with boxing with the ability to provide many services to current and retired professionals, as well as providing support at grassroots level.”